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Gay student slaying: Mistrial declared [Updated]

September 1, 2011 |  4:26 pm

Photo: Brandon McInerney, left, and  Larry King. Credit: Los Angeles Times  / E. O. Green Jr. High School  2006-2007 yearbook
A judge declared a mistrial Thursday in the case of an Oxnard teenager accused of killing a gay classmate.

The vote was 7 to 5 in favor of finding Brandon McInerney guilty of voluntary manslaughter.

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

[Updated at 4:31 p.m., Sept. 1: McInerney was stoic as the judge declared a mistrial, but after jurors left he smiled at his family members, some of whom he hadn’t seen in three years, and blew a kiss to his girlfriend.  King’s family did not react and left the courtroom without commenting.]

The mistrial brings 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.”

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 and Steve Chawkins in 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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