Pretrial hearing in Larry King murder case is under way

July 21, 2009

Via the Los Angeles Times (link here) I learn that the pretrial hearing has begun in the Larry King murder case. Brandon McInerney, accused of killing classmate Larry King, “faces a first-degree murder charge for allegedly taking out a weapon as class got underway Feb. 12, 2008, and shooting King twice in the back of the head”.

Needless to say, the defense attorney has already begun the victim-blaming, no doubt in preparation for wheeling out the ever-creakier trans panic defense.

Prosecutors say it was a hate crime. But on Monday, defense attorney Scott Wippert repeatedly suggested that King provoked violent behavior by flirting on campus with McInerney while dressed in women’s high-heeled boots, earrings and makeup.

The 4-foot, 11-inch King “sexually harassed” McInerney by openly declaring his affection for him and humiliating him with his attention, Wippert said.

However, whether this farcical attempt to shift the blame on to Larry King – who, let us not forget, can’t testify in person, on account of having been shot to death – will actually succeed when Mr McInerney has apparently already confessed, is another matter:

A few minutes after he allegedly gunned down his gay classmate, Oxnard junior high school student Brandon McInerney calmly allowed police to take him into custody, telling them, “I’m the one who did it,” the officers testified in a Ventura courthouse Monday.


“He said, ‘I’m sorry, I did it, officer. I shot him,’ ” said Officer Joe Tinoco, of the Oxnard Police Department.

As Tinoco and Sgt. Peter Freiberg patted McInerney down, the eighth-grader told them he had left his weapon behind in the classroom, Tinoco said.

In addition there are other testimonies which seem to suggest premeditation on the part of Mr McInerney:

One student, a female friend of King’s, reportedly told Oxnard Police Sgt. Kevin Baysinger that McInerney sought her out the day before the shooting. McInerney reportedly told the girl, “Tell Larry goodbye because you’re not going to see him again,” Baysinger testified.

One of McInerney’s friends told investigators that the youth said he was “going to kill” King. He told another friend that they should jump King and “shank” him.

The hearing continues.


Note: There are two useful pieces discussing the trans panic defense in more depth:

  • This link via Holly in comments at Feministe and,
  • This link (Banning the trans panic defense) by Dr Jillian T. Weiss at The Bilerico Project


Cross-posted at Questioning Transphobia


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6 Responses to “Pretrial hearing in Larry King murder case is under way”

  1. Regarding “gay panic,” I hope I do not terrify a homosexual as a heterosexual. I do not think the last leather gay who said I was handsome was attempting to insult me. I took what he said as a compliment.

    If you can claim someone elses sexuality scaring you as an excuse for murder, perhaps us flaming heterosexuals should watch out too. We might hit on a lesbian and it could be used as an excuse.

    I wonder where these people come from. I mean the defense lawyer.

  2. Helen G Says:

    johnlloydscharf: My understanding of the gay panic defense derives largely from the Matthew Shephard case, in which the accused claimed that Matthew Shephard made a homosexual proposition, which enraged them to the point of murder. It’s a victim-blaming tactic which, in my opinion, differs from the trans panic defense in one significant way: in trans panic, the accused generally argue that their victim – by presenting in (usually) a way which reflects her subconscious sex – was lying to the attackers about her “real” sex, which enraged them to the point of murder.

    It’s interesting that the prosecutor referred to the gay panic defense, rather than the trans panic defense, though. Often transphobic hate crimes are reported as homophobic hate crimes, or subsumed within the category of homophobia. Also, transphobic hate crimes are often confused with homophobic incidents in the same way transphobia is confused with homophobia.

    And yet, per the earlier LA Times report (link here):

    […] defense attorney Scott Wippert repeatedly suggested that King provoked violent behavior by flirting on campus with McInerney while dressed in women’s high-heeled boots, earrings and makeup.

    All of which chimes more with the trans panic argument, not gay panic. Conversely, I’ve seen nothing to corroborate the suggestion that Larry King identified as gender variant, although I have read elsewhere that ze also went by the name Leticia which, if true, would certainly suggest it.

    But this is a specific problem around the reporting of murdered trans people: not all trans people that are murdered are reported as being trans. Depending on the knowledge (and perspectives) of those who report the crime, murdered trans people may well be reported as men or women, or as lesbians or gays.

    Be that as it may, the fact remains that Brandon McInerney has confessed to the police that he shot Larry King twice in the head, in front of the whole class. Regardless of Mr McInerney’s motivations, in my opinion this is quite clearly premeditated murder and no amount of victim-blaming by the defense – who are simply doing the job they’re paid to do, and may well have no investment in the case other than getting a result which favours Mr McInerney – should obscure those details.

    I only hope that, when the case finally comes to trial, the jury will make the correct decision.

  3. I do not buy the assumption that mere words justifies violence.

  4. Helen G Says:

    Unfortunately, some juries do – perhaps most notably in the cases of Matthew Shepard and Gwen Araujo, but see also the Transgender Day of Remembrance website and Wikipedia.

  5. I am, of course, referring to justice and civilized behavior, of course. The Supreme Court does not back my opinion completely, it seems. There is a case from the late 40’s where they discuss fighting words:

    Words are just vibrations in the air. They can only be given value of the person who perceives them allows those vibrations to have meaning.

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