A DISCUSSION OF LAW AND JOURNALISM

Tag: first degree murder

Hate Crime on “Valentine Road”

Lawrence King Girl

By Noah Forrest

In 2008 in Oxnard, California, a just-turned fourteen-year-old boy, Brandon McInerney, stood up in a classroom and shot a classmate, Lawrence King.  The shots were fatal.

This event is at the center of Marta Cunningham’s documentary, “Valentine Road,” which premiered on HBO on October 7 and is available On Demand and at HBO Go.

Ms. Cunningham’s film takes an even-handed look at the lives of both boys prior to the tragedy and the toll it took on their family, friends, and teachers.

Larry identified as transgender. Brandon was a bully who taunted Larry and others who seemed vulnerable.  Remarkably, the movie shows that the boys had more in common than anyone could have guessed, each suffering abuse a from young age at the hand of a family member or guardian.

Though there is evidence that Brandon was alternately threatened or enraged by Larry’s feminine clothes and alter-ego, Valentine’s Day brought things to a boiling point.

Larry asked Brandon, in front of Brandon’s friends, to be his Valentine.

In the film, a psychologist who testified for the defense explains that Brandon felt humiliated, even sexually harassed, by Larry’s request.   Brandon wasn’t mature enough, says the expert, to handle this unwanted attention.

The film raises many legal questions.  Brandon brought the gun to school with the express intention of shooting Larry. Should he have been tried as an adult?  Was killing Larry a hate crime?  LASIS investigates.

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Casey Anthony: Once in a Lifetime

Rob Lowe as Jeff Ashton

By Nicole Rowlands

O.J. Simpson. Dr. Jack Kevorkian. The Menendez brothers. Charles Manson. Defendants in famous murder trials, all. Of course, the list would not be complete without…

Casey Anthony.

Voted the most disliked person in America in 2011, the year of her trial, Casey Anthony stood accused of murder in the first degree in the death of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee.

Everyone thought she was guilty. We were convinced she was guilty. The jury on the other hand, was not. And since our legal system dictates that a person is innocent until proven guilty in court, Casey Anthony was, and is, a free woman.

And now the story has made it to our TV screens. “Prosecuting Casey Anthony” premiered on Saturday, January 19 on the Lifetime Network. The movie is based on prosecutor Jeff Ashton’s book “Imperfect Justice: Prosecuting Casey Anthony,” and gives us a behind-the-scenes look at the prosecution team before and during Ms. Anthony’s murder trial.

From the beginning of the film we can see that Mr. Ashton (played by Rob Lowe) is a big deal. The lead attorney for the State of Florida, Linda Drane Burdick, (played by Elizabeth Mitchell) asked him to take the case as his last before retirement. Ms. Burdick may have been the lead chair officially, but it was pretty clear that it was Mr. Ashton who called the shots. As the movie made abundantly clear, this is a guy who “got the first conviction in the entire world based on DNA evidence.”  If someone might not know that already, Mr. Ashton probably makes it abundantly clear to them. (Just a hunch; it seems the guy has quite the healthy ego).

To Mr. Ashton, the Casey Anthony case was perfect: He would win and serve justice.  It was a case he couldn’t lose.

Until he did.

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