A 14-year-old boy pleaded not guilty yesterday at the start of his trial in California for the murder of his classmate.

As a result of an earlier ruling by Ventura County Superior Court Judge Douglas Daily, Brandon McInerney isĀ  being tried as an adult and could face life in prison.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans activists had urged that the boy be dealt with by a juvenile court.

Yesterday his defence lawyer said the decision to try him for murder and not manslaughter was effectively a “death sentence.”

Lawrence King, 15, who self-identified as gay and wore feminine clothing, was shot in the head on February 12th during a lesson, allegedly by McInerney, his classmate at E.O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard, California.

Kevin Jennings, Executive Director of GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, said:

“As a nation, we’ve had our heads in the sand for far too long. We need to do everything we can to prevent something like this from happening again.”