Jurors can consider lesser charge in gay student shooting
Brandon McInerney is accused of pulling out a gun during a junior high school computer lab and shooting classmate Larry King, stunning dozens of students in the classroom.
McInerney is charged with first-degree murder and committing a hate crime –- charges that could bring a prison sentence of up to 53 years.
His attorneys have argued that McInerney was the victim of aggressive flirtations from King, who had started coming to school wearing high heels and makeup.
Closing arguments in the case, which was moved from Ventura County to Chatsworth because of the level of publicity that the 2008 shooting had drawn, are schedule to begin Thursday.
The case would go to jurors after that.
Judge Charles Campbell cleared the way Wednesday for jurors to consider a much more lenient charge of voluntary manslaughter, which carries a shorter prison sentence.
If convicted of voluntary manslaughter, McInerney –- who is now 17 -- could be free before he turns 40.
Jurors, however, would first have to acquit McInerney of murder before weighing the lesser charge.
--Catherine Saillant, reporting from Chatsworth
Photo: Kendra McInerney, left, leaves the Chatsworth courthouse where her son, Brandon, is being tried on first-degree murder and hate-crime charges in the 2008 shooting death of his gay classmate Larry King at an Oxnard middle school. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times