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Forewoman: Verdict 'unlikely in slaying of gay teen [Updated]

Photo: Brandon McInerney, left, and Larry King. Credit: Los Angeles Times  / E. O. Green Jr. High School 2006-2007 yearbook
Jurors weighing the fate of an Oxnard teenager accused of killing a gay classmate indicated Thursday that it is unlikely they will be able to reach a verdict in the high-profile case.

But the judge hearing the case indicated it is likely he will ask jurors to continue their deliberations, even though they have already taken votes – two of which were 8 to 4 and a third was 9 to 3. Jurors did not indicate whether they were leaning toward guilt or acquittal.

[Updated at 3:50 p.m.: The judge has asked jurors to resume deliberations.]

Jurors in the case, in which Brandon McInerney fatally shot 15-year-old Larry King in a junior high school computer lab, were ordered earlier Thursday to continue deliberating despite the failed votes.

If there’s a mistrial, it would bring to a close a trial that has been followed closely by gay-rights groups that have fought hard to protect gay and transgendered students from campus bullying.

But as the weeks of testimony continued and a more nuanced portrait emerged of what was happening at E.O. Green Junior High before the shooting, it also raised a host of thorny questions.

The prosecution says it was a calculated murder carried out in part because McInerney was exploring white supremacist ideology and didn't like homosexuals.

Defense attorneys painted a different picture, that of a bright but abused 14-year-old who snapped after being sexually harassed by King.

Asked Thursday by Superior Court Judge Charles Campbell when it was possible the jury could reach a decision with more time, the forewoman of the panel said “I suppose it’s possible.”

She indicated, though, that it was seemed “unlikely” jurors would come to an agreement in the case.

Jurors also asked for a clarification in jury instructions pertaining to “what is a person of average disposition” and “what does it mean to act rashly.”

[Updated 3:50 p.m. The judge defined average disposition as "a person of ordinary temperment and self" and rashly as "to act impulsively."

These were part of the instructions concerning a charge of voluntary manslaughter, not murder.]

The jury began deliberating Friday, weighing eight weeks of testimony in a trial that included nearly 100 witnesses. Many of those testifying were students and teachers at E.O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard who saw tensions on campus rising after King began coming to school dressed in makeup and girl's boots.

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-- Catherine Saillant, reporting from Chatsworth

Photo: Brandon McInerney, left, and Larry King. Credit: Los Angeles Times  / E. O. Green Jr. High School 2006-2007 yearbook

 
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