A US judge has ordered that defence lawyers for a teenager accused of shooting dead a gay classmate be ready for the trial.

Lawyers for Brendan McInerney argued that they needed more time to interview witnesses but Judge Charles Campbell said they had known the case was coming to trial.

Mr McInerney, 16, is being tried as an adult over the 2008 killing of 15-year-old Larry King, who was gay.

Both boys were pupils at E O Green Junior High School in Oxnard, California.

The defendant, who was 14 when the killing took place, is accused of shooting King twice in the head on February 12th 2008 during a lesson.

His lawyers rejected a plea bargain and Mr McInerney will face charges of murder and a hate crime.

Judge Campbell accused his legal team of wasting time, saying they were aware a trial would start imminently and that they had had two years to prepare for the case.

Prosecutor Maeve Fox suggested that the delay could mean witnesses would get “fed up” and refused to testify.

However, Scott Wippert, Mr McInerney’s lawyer, criticised the prosecutors for trying to start the trial.

He told AP: “It’s a scary proposition for a [district attorney] to be pushing forward a trial of a 16-year-old boy risking life in prison when, in fact, it’s clear, and it’s been made clear since at least a month, that we are not going to be ready for a trial,” he said.

If the legal team does not appeal, jury selection will begin next week.

Mr McInerney allegedly told other students he was going to kill or injure King for humiliating him by flirting with him but they did not report the threats as they did not believe him.

He could be sentenced to 50 years in jail if convicted.