Larry King Murder Trial: Jurors Can Consider Manslaughter Conviction For Student Shooter

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LARRY KING MURDER
Scott Wippert, attorney for murder defendant Brandon McInerney. (Associated Press) | AP Photo/Nick Ut

LOS ANGELES — A California judge decided jurors can consider convicting a teen of voluntary manslaughter in the killing of a gay classmate at school.

Defendant Brandon McInerney is charged with murder in the shooting of 15-year-old Larry King.

Ventura County Superior Court Judge Charles Campbell decided Tuesday the jury could opt for the lesser charge if they find McInerney, now 17, not guilty of either first-degree and second-degree murder.

A voluntary manslaughter would carry a maximum 21-year prison term. If convicted of first-degree murder, McInerney could face more than 50 years in prison.

McInerney is accused of taking a .22-caliber handgun to E.O. Green Junior High School in February 2008, a few weeks after his 14th birthday, and shooting King twice in the back of the head during a computer class.

The case has drawn national attention to the issue of violence against gays and bullying among students. The trial was moved to Los Angeles because of pretrial publicity.

Campbell felt that not allowing jurors to consider voluntary manslaughter would be problematic if there is an appeal, according to the Ventura County Star (). http://bit.ly/rg71Tj

Closing arguments are expected to begin Thursday.

Defense attorneys argue their client came from a violent upbringing and reached an emotional breaking point after King, who wore high heels and makeup to school in the weeks leading to the shooting, made unwanted sexual advances toward him.

Prosecutors say the slaying was premeditated, and McInerney supported white supremacist ideology that homosexuality is an abomination.

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Information from: Ventura County Star, http://venturacountystar.com

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Information from: Ventura County Star, http://venturacountystar.com

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