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Brandon McInerney and Larry King

Today a judge in California declared a mistrial after a week of deliberation by jurors in the Brandon McInerney murder case.

For those unfamiliar, McInerney was the 14-year-old who shot 15-year-old Larry King for allegedly hitting on him in 2008. The incident shook the nation and prompted several high-profile celebrities to create PSAs against anti-gay bullying and even revived the national debate on anti-gay bullying legislation.

After eight weeks of testimony, which included 100 witnesses, the jurors came to a 7 to 5 vote in favor of McInerney being guilty of voluntary manslaughter. They had communicated to the judge earlier this week that they could not come to a decision, but the judge asked them to continue deliberations, until discussions hit a stall earlier today. The prosecution now has to decide if they will refile the murder and hate crime charges against McInerney.

Shortly after the mistrial verdict was delivered, GLSEN (The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network) released the following statment:

The mistrial declared today is hardly a surprise. This was always destined to be a case with little resolution and no winners, whatever the verdict. The central facts remain the same: homophobia killed Larry King and destroyed Brandon McInerney’s life, and adults failed both young men because of their own inability to deal forthrightly and compassionately with the multiple challenges they each faced. The jury’s indecision is a sad reflection of our collective inability to find common ground and invest in a better future for all youth and a culture of respect for all.

I completely agree with this statement. What’s extremely sad about this whole situation is the very dangerous message that it’s sending to our youth. During the trial, it was reported that McInerney’s lawyers were using the “gay panic defense” (a defense also used during the trial of Matthew Shepard’s murders), which basically sends the message that homophobia can’t be controlled. It’s the fault of gays and transgenders for being that way. The whole thing sickens me to my core. Though McInerney is definitely at fault and should be put away forever, it was really our intolerant society that failed both these boys.

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