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Brandon McInerney gets 21 years: School faulted in gay teen slaying

November 22, 2011 |  7:11 am

Gay shooting

As Brandon McInerney agreed to spend the next 21 years in prison for fatally shooting gay middle-school classmate Larry King, the actions of school officials have come under scrutiny from both sides in the case.

McInerney's attorneys presented evidence during the trial that school officials could have done more to prevent the violence, a point King's mother also expressed in an interview with The Times on Monday.

McInerney, who was 14 when he pulled a gun out of his backpack and shot King two times at point-blank range, will be kept behind bars until he is 38 under the terms of the deal struck by Ventura County prosecutors.

The victim's mother, Dawn King, revealed for the first time Monday that she had contacted school officials four days before the shooting in an effort to solicit their cooperation in toning down her son's behavior. The boy had been taken from the Kings' home two months earlier by authorities because of domestic problems.

She said she was told that her son had a civil right to explore his sexual identity.

"I knew, gut instinct, that something serious was going to happen," she said. "They should have contained him, contained his behavior."

School administrators sent a memo advising teachers to give King his space, but to report safety problems. Teachers at the trial testified that when they tried to report growing tensions between King and several boys, school leaders shunned them.

McInerney shot King in a school computer lab at E.O Green Junior High in Oxnard in February 2008 after days of conflict between the boys. Students and teachers at the trial testified that King had been dressing in women's accessories and wearing makeup, and was flirting aggressively with male students on campus who did not want the attention.

Assistant Principal Joy Epstein has come under criticism for allegedly being more intent on protecting King's civil rights than in acknowledging that his dress and behavior were causing problems.

"It was reported, more than once, by more than one person,'' said English teacher Dawn Boldrin. "It was documented. There is paperwork on this. She kept saying that she didn't know and she did. She knew. She did. Everybody knew."

Epstein, who testified for the prosecution, denied that anyone on the campus relayed concerns about King's safety before the shooting.


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-- Catherine Saillant

Photo: Brandon McInerney, left, and Larry King. Credit: E.O. Green Junior High School 2006-07 yearbook