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Jurors in fatal shooting of gay teenager at Oxnard school will be drawn from Santa Barbara County

August 23, 2010 |  4:16 pm

Intense news coverage in Ventura County about the shooting death of gay teenager Lawrence “Larry” King prompted a judge Monday to order that the jurors be drawn from neighboring Santa Barbara County.

Superior Court Judge Charles Campbell agreed with the defense’s contention that Ventura County residents have been so saturated with news coverage of the Oxnard classroom murder in 2008 that it threatened 16-year-old defendant Brandon McInerney’s right to a fair trial.

But although jurors will be selected from southern Santa Barbara County, the trial will stay in Ventura County Superior Court, Campbell said at a Monday hearing. The judge said he would provide more details about the logistics of jury selection at a Thursday briefing.

Prosecutor Maeve Fox was not immediately available for comment. Defense attorneys Scott Wippert and Robyn Bramson also were not available.

McInerney had just turned 14 when he allegedly shot King execution-style in a computer class in February 2008. Student witnesses said the effeminate King had expressed a romantic interest in McInerney, who was humiliated by the attention. The boys had verbally sparred in the days before the shooting.

The case has garnered international attention from gay and lesbian groups, who see King as a victim of homophobia. McInerney’s defenders say that school officials and the boys’ parents should have done more to quell tensions between them.

McInerney is being tried as an adult on a first-degree murder charge with a hate crime enhancement and could face 53 years to life if convicted.

-- Catherine Saillant