The trial of a boy accused of shooting dead a gay classmate has heard that administrators failed to address problems around the victim’s clothes and behaviour.
Brandon McInerney, who was 14 at the time, is accused of shooting 15-year-old Larry King in the back of the head during a lesson at E.O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard, California, in February 2008.
A trial held in Chatsworth heard last week that teachers at the school had become increasingly concerned about the victim’s appearance and demeanour in the weeks up to his death, the LA Times reports.
A number of teachers testified that King had a habit of taunting other boys with sexualised comments, and they feared that his behaviour would soon provoke violence.
King, who identified as gay, had begun wearing heavy makeup and high heels to school. Teachers claimed he made remarks to other boys such a ‘I know you want me’ and one staff member said boys had complained of him following them into toilets.
Teacher Jill Ekmann said a group of boys told her they wanted to beat up King, so she went to principal Joy Epstein to ask what could be done. Ms Ekmann and other teachers testified that the principal said it was King’s right to wear makeup and that tolerance should be encouraged. However, other staff said it was clear that the approach would not work to protect the boy.
McInerney admits shooting King but his lawyers argue he is guilty of voluntary manslaughter rather than murder because he was humiliated by King’s sexual advances. This means that King’s behaviour, and the school’s reaction to it, have come under scrutiny.
The prosecution has claimed that McInerney had strong white supremacist and anti-gay beliefs, as per materials that were found in his bedroom.
This week, Simi Valley Detective Dan Swanson testified that the boy was involved in a local gang which was influenced by white supremacists and has a history of violence.