Attorneys delivered opening arguments Tuesday in the trial of a teenager accused in the execution-style shooting death of a 14-year-old gay classmate at an Oxnard junior high school.
Brandon McInerney, 17, is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of eighth-grade classmate Lawrence King in February 2008. Authorities said McInerney shot King twice in the head in a classroom at E.O. Green Junior High School.
Classmates said the two had been involved in confrontations after King expressed his attraction to McInerney. Court documents say that the day before the shooting King said, "I love you" to the McInerney in the school hallway.
Ventura County Deputy District Attorney Maeve Fox said Tuesday that McInerney executed King because of friction between the two. Fox said the defendant espoused white supremacist beliefs.
A defense attorney aruged that McInerney was "emotionally pushed over the edge" by his classmate's "inappropriate sexual comments."
It's a case that prompted calls for increased protections for gay students on school campuses. A day of silence was conducted in April by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network.
McInerney is being tried as an adult for first-degree murder and a hate crime. If convicted, McInerney faces up to life in prison.
His attorneys plan to argue it was a case of voluntary manslaughter because McInerney was provoked by King's advances. The voluntary manslaughter charge does not carry a life sentence.
In ordering the case to trial, the judge cited evidence that McInerney told other students that he was going to kill King.
"You better say goodbye to him because you won't see him again," McInerney said, according to investigators who interviewed students.
Prosecutors said McInerney walked into the classroom with a loaded pistol, sat down and fire one shot, then stood up and fired a second shot before leaving the classroom.
The trial was delayed several times because of legal team changes and change of venue requests. The trial venue was moved to Santa Barbara before another change of venue request brought the trial to Chatsworth.