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Gay student shooting: 'I wanted to kill him,' accused told expert

Larry King and Brandon McInerney

The night before he killed Larry King, 14-year-old Brandon McInerney could think of nothing else.

It wasn’t enough that King, a troubled eighth-grader, had started coming to school in high heels and makeup. But just that day he passed McInerney in the hallway and, in front of the lanky teen’s friends, uttered what McInerney saw as a repulsive come-on: “What’s up, baby?”

It was the last straw.

For McInerney, there had been months of pressure to do better in school from his abusive, methamphetamine-addicted father. And now, there was this strange remark from this strange boy -- a comment that McInerney later described as “superdisgusting.”

“I sat and I thought about it over and over,” he told psychologist Douglas Hoagland months after he shot King in a computer lab at E.O. Green Junior High in Oxnard. “It didn’t calm me down. It made me more angry. All I could think about was I wanted to kill him.”

McInerney’s internal monologue came out Monday in a Chatsworth courtroom as a prosecutor tried to shake the testimony of Hoagland, an expert for the defense in McInerney’s murder trial.

The lengthy proceeding, moved to Los Angeles County because of extensive publicity in Ventura County, is in its final stages and is expected to go the jury this week or next.

Attorneys for McInerney, now 17 but being tried as an adult, are hoping the jury will be allowed to consider the killing as manslaughter rather than murder.

They have argued that McInerney was a bright kid driven over the brink by a long history of violence at home and, in the end, teasing from the victim, whose cross-dressing he saw as in-your-face provocation.

The Ventura County district attorney’s office has painted the defendant as calculating and callous, a budding white supremacist given to swastika doodles and, like his father and grandfather, rage against minorities.

On Feb. 12, 2008, after a night fuming over the perceived insult from King, McInerney left for school in a hurry — but came back to get his father’s loaded .22-caliber revolver, Hoagland testified.

He concealed it in a towel and stuffed it in his backpack. At school he stealthily withdrew the towel-wrapped gun and stuffed it into his pants.

He told Hoagland he had started to have second thoughts about killing King, who sat immediately in front of him.

But when he heard King telling a girl that he’d changed his name to Leticia, that changed.

“He snapped,” Hoagland said, and entered a “dissociative state” that lasted until he fled the classroom and was caught by police minutes later.

“It was a transient period of dissociation,” Hoagland said in response to skeptical questioning from prosecutor Maeve Fox.

After shooting two bullets into King’s head, McInerney said he remembered hearing the teacher scream and seeing a pool of King’s blood, Hoagland said.

Fox scoffed at the explanation, describing it as McInerney entering “a state of semi-unawareness.” She pointed to testimony from fellow students that McInerney had told them of his intent to kill King.

When one of them asked McInerney whether he’d brought a gun to school, as he said he would, he lied and said he hadn’t. Not long afterward he fired the fatal shots.

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-- Steve Chawkins in Chatsworth

Photo: Larry King, 15, left, was fatally wounded while seated in a classroom at E.O. Green Middle School in Oxnard in 2008. Brandon McInerney, right, is on trial for the killing. He was 14 at the time of the shooting. Credit: Los Angeles Times

 
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