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Mistrial clouds fate of teen accused in slaying of gay student

September 2, 2011 |  9:20 am

Brandon McInerney and Larry King
A judge declared a mistrial after jurors said they could not agree whether to convict Brandon McInerney, the middle school student who shot and killed a gay classmate during a morning computer lab.

Jurors deadlocked 7 to 5 in favor of voluntary manslaughter in the emotional two-month trial in the case of the stunning 2008 shooting inside an Oxnard classroom.

Defense attorney Scott Wippert said McInerney was disappointed by the mistrial because his fate was left hanging. Prosecutors probably won't announce until next month whether they will try the 17-year-old a second time, and whether he again will be tried as an adult.

McInerney sat stiffly and silently at the defense table as Ventura County Judge Charles Campbell declared a mistrial. His mother, Kendra McInerney, sobbed into her hands. The parents of victim Larry King, Greg and Dawn King, stormed from the courtroom with other relatives, even as the judge was still addressing the jurors.

McInerney was 14 when he walked into a morning computer lab at E.O. Green Junior High School, pulled a .22-caliber handgun from his backpack, put the gun to King's head and pulled the trigger twice. King was 15.

But jurors universally rejected the prosecution's contention that the shooting was a hate crime carried out by a youth filled with white supremacist beliefs and a hatred for homosexuals, Wippert said. He said jurors told him that it had been an emotionally raw and gut-wrenching case and that, in the end, they couldn't agree on a conviction.

Prosecutors declined to comment, as did jurors.

"He made this horrible decision at such a young age," Robyn Bramson, another defense attorney, said outside the courthouse. "He's going to be locked up for a very, very long time, and I want him to have a date on the calendar when he can get out."

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-- Catherine Saillant in Chatsworth

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

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