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Teen doesn't match profile of white supremacist, expert testifies

August 17, 2011 |  3:09 pm

63999875 If murder defendant Brandon McInerney is a white supremacist, he’s not typical because he had Latino and black friends, an expert in the field testified Wednesday.

McInerney, who is on trial for allegedly killing gay classmate Larry King, is being tried for a hate crime as well as murder in the 2008 Ventura County case. The trial was moved to Chatsworth because of intense media coverage.

Randal Hecht, an investigator called by the defense in McInerney’s trial, testified that most white supremacists don’t have such a diverse group of friends as McInerney, now 17, did at the time King was killed.

Prosecutors allege that McInerney shot King after he started cross-dressing and making what McInerney took as flirtatious remarks. Both were students at E.O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard.

During the investigation of the 2008 case, authorities found books and videos on Nazi subjects in McInerney’s bedroom. But his attorneys have argued that they could have been materials the eighth-grader used for a school report and that they actually belonged to his half brother.

Scott Wippert, an attorney for McInerney, also questioned how much he was influenced by Matt Reaume, a self-professed white supremacist who lived nearby and was described by a prosecution expert as McInerney’s "mentor."  Most of the Nazi flags and regalia in Reaume’s home were in a closet, hidden from McInerney’s view — limiting the youth’s exposure to Nazi tenets, the attorney suggested.

McInerney, who doodled swastikas in some of his notebooks, did not display traits of "hard-core" supremacists, said Hecht, a former police officer based in Riverside. In the sixth week of McInerney's trial, there has been no testimony about him going to rallies, joining groups or acquiring neo-Nazi tattoos -- characteristic behavior for new converts to the cause. One classmate at E.O. Green Junior High described McInerney as a white supremacist but other students and teachers on the witness stand did not.

Wippert was skeptical that a white supremacist committed enough to kill for his beliefs -- which include hatred of those they see as gay -- would escape the notice of his peers.  Hecht agreed: "At some point," he said, "it will become very apparent to people around them what they're all about," he said.

The trial is expected to end sometime next week. It was moved to Chatsworth after intense pretrial coverage in Ventura County.


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-- Steve Chawkins

Photo: Brandon McInerney