A DISCUSSION OF LAW AND JOURNALISM

Tag: Lawrence King

Hate Crime on “Valentine Road”

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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