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A second trial in gay slaying case could be risky, former D.A. says

September 2, 2011 |  3:43 pm

Prosecutors may face an uphill climb in retrying a former Oxnard middle school student who shot a gay classmate to death during a morning computer lab three years ago, a former district attorney said Friday.

“These are extremely difficult cases,” said Michael Bradbury, the longtime district attorney in Ventura County.

“The public may see a straightforward murder case, but this case is far more complex, firstly, because of the age of the defendant at the time of the act and, secondly, the manner in which he was raised by his parents, which was clearly dysfunctional and by all accounts horrific,” Bradbury said.

The raw emotions of the case make the outcome of a second trial “highly unpredictable,” the former prosecutor said.

Jurors were unable to reach a decision in the case, even after 17 hours of deliberations and the option of convicting Brandon McInerney of murder or the less serious offense of voluntary manslaughter. A judge declared a mistrial Friday.

Prosecutors vowed Friday to immediately retry McInerney for fatally shooting Larry King, a 15-year-old student who’d begun to wear makeup and women’s attire to school.

However, Ventura County prosecutors said they are considering whether to again try McInerney as an adult -- a choice that legal experts believe made it harder for them to win a conviction.

Others, including Bradbury, said there are challenges beyond the defendant’s age.

“It will be equally difficult a second time despite the lawyers having gaining a wealth of information from individual jurors,” Bradbury said.

Defense attorney and former prosecutor Dmitry Gorin said the prosecution overreached the first time around.

“In a hate crime there is typically clear and convincing evidence that it was motivated by hate,” she said.

“Children tend to have a myriad of reasons for killing," she added. "He may have had issues with the victim being gay, but that interaction was probably a lot more complex, and jurors saw that.”


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Photo: Larry King's father leaves the courtroom after a mistrial was declared. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho