Gay Teen Murder Trial Begins In California

The murder trial has begun for Brandon McInerney, a high school student from Oxnard, California, who three years ago walked into computer class, sat behind openly gay classmate Larry King, and shot him twice in the back of the head. Opening statements from both sides offered new details about that senseless and horrific case.

According the LA Times, prosecutor Maeve Fox began with a 90-minute slide presentation outlining her case. She described King, who was 15 at the time of his murder, as a small and "very effeminate" boy shunned by his male classmates, who subjected him to years of merciless bullying.

After he was removed from his home and placed in a shelter, his attitude changed.

He became more confident in school and started wearing high-heeled boots, makeup and jewelry along with his uniform. School rules did not prohibit this.

"Larry King for the first time in his life wasn't taking it anymore," Fox said. "He started to give people what I prefer to call the proverbial chin, only it was more profane."

McInerney, a tall and muscular 14-year-old with white supremacist leanings, according to the prosecution, regularly hurled gay slurs at King. On February 11, 2008, they clashed, and McInerney said he was "going to shoot" King.

Immediately after class, McInerney and King exchanged words once more, she said. King turned to McInerney and said, mockingly, "I love you, baby!" Fox said. McInerney then tried to recruit friends to jump King, she said; when that was unsuccessful, McInerney made his own plan.

The next day, McInerney sat directly behind King in a computer lab. Shortly after class started, he pulled out a .22-caliber gun and shot King twice in the back of the head.

McInerney's defense attorney, Scott Wippert, opened with a 30-minute statement that focused on both boys' "troubled backgrounds." He said McInerney reached an "emotional breaking point" after being sexually harassed over an extended period of time by King. He said the Nazi iconography and copies of Hitler's speeches police found in his bedroom weren't there for any reason other than "a World War II paper" he was writing for history class.

While Wippert conceded that McInerney did shoot King to death, he maintained that it was not a hate crime: "He did this out of a heat of passion, and that is voluntary manslaughter." Wippert was later fined $500 for being in contempt of court when he ignored the judge's orders not to question a police witness about his client's "remorseful" behavior following the shooting.

McInerney, now 17, was 14 when he murdered King. He's being tried as an adult. [LA Times, screengrab via LAT]