The trial of a California teen accused of killing a gay classmate is bringing national attention to the problem of gay bullying, reports NPR. Prosecutors say the defendant murdered Lawrence King, 15, out of his hatred of homosexuals, but defense attorneys say their client snapped after being repeatedly harassed by the openly gay teen. The murder took place three years ago in the working-class town of Oxnard, 60 miles north of Los Angeles. Brandon McInerney, 14, walked into computer lab, sat behind Larry King and pulled a gun out of his backpack.
According to prosecutors, he shot King once in the back of the head, looked around the class, made eye contact with several students, then shot King again. Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres and gay rights advocates took to the airwaves. They started Facebook tributes and held annual vigils. Gay teens, they said, were facing an epidemic of bullying in schools. The trial has been moved into Los Angeles County because of pretrial publicity. A much taller and older looking 17-year-old Brandon McInerney spends his days emotionless in the courtroom. Former prosecutor Laurie Levenson says the prosecution also not want to open the door into King’s sexuality in case there are jurors who don’t approve of gays and lesbians.