Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Judge orders trial to begin in case of Oxnard teenager accused of fatally shooting gay classmate

July 14, 2010 | 10:33 am

A Ventura County Superior Court judge on Wednesday denied a request for a continuance in the trial of an Oxnard teenager accused of shooting and killing a gay classmate at school.

Left, the alleged shooter Brandon McInerney from his 2006-2007 yearbook Right, victim Lawrence King from his 2006-2007 school yearbook. An attorney for Brandon McInerney, 16, had asked the court for a delay of at least three months so that he could interview more witnesses and further prepare for trial. McInerney is being tried as an adult.

But Judge Charles Campbell agreed with prosecutors that the defense has had plenty of time to prepare and should be ready to go.

Defense attorney Scott Wippert disagreed.

"We're about to start a trial we're clearly unprepared for," he said.

Campbell said it should have been clear to Wippert that the case was going to trial after the attorney refused the prosecution's offer in December 2008 of a reduced charge of 25 years to life for his client as part of a plea agreement.

"I don't think there has been adequate diligence in preparation," Campbell said. 

McInerney is accused of murder and a hate crime in the Feb. 12, 2008, shooting death of classmate Lawrence "Larry" King, 15. The boys had been sparring in the days before the killing, allegedly because King had expressed a romantic interest in McInerney, who was 14 at the time.

The defendant is charged with first-degree murder with a gun enhancement charge and a hate crime allegation. If convicted, he could  be sentenced to a maximum of 53 years to life in prison. Because of his age, he is not eligible for the death penalty.

A jury must now be picked before the trial can begin.

-- Catherine Saillant in Ventura

Photos: (top) A memorial outside E.O. Green Junior High School in February 2008 after Lawrence "Larry" King was shot and killed. Credit: Associated Press

(bottom) The alleged shooter, Brandon McInerney, left, in his 2006-2007 school yearbook photo and King in his 2006-2007 yearbook photo.