Boy Who Shot Classmate at Age 14 Will Be Retried as Adult

Why did Brandon McInerney shoot classmate Larry King?

ByABC News
October 4, 2011, 4:16 PM

Oct. 5, 2011 — -- A teen who shot and killed his eighth grade classmate in 2008 will be retried for first-degree murder in California.

The first murder trial of Brandon McInerney, who was 14 when he shot Larry King, 15, at their Oxnard, Calif. middle school, ended in a hung jury last month.

Watch the full story on "20/20" Friday at 10 p.m.

The Ventura County District Attorney's Office announced today that Brandon, now 17, will be tried as an adult, as he was in his first trial, despite his lawyer's arguments that juvenile court would be a better fit for the case. If convicted in juvenile court, McInerney likely would have faced a shorter sentence and would have been released by age 25. If convicted as an adult, Brandon could face a life sentence.

The shooting took place just two days before Valentine's Day, when an eighth-grade English classroom suddenly became a crime scene.

On the morning of Feb. 12, 2008, at E.O. Green Junior High in Oxnard, Calif., Brandon did something unexpected: He sat down behind Larry.

"We had been working on a paper in the computer lab," said teacher Dawn Boldrin. "And I remember hearing a pop."

PHOTOS: Larry King and Brandon McInerney.

She quickly turned and her eyes immediately locked on Brandon, who was standing, holding a .22 caliber handgun.

"I asked him what the hell he was doing," she said. "And he looked at me."

Then, she said, he pulled the trigger again, dropped the gun and walked out the door.

Chaos ensued. Boldrin scrambled to get the other students into another classroom and to safety when she suddenly realized who was left behind.

"Larry's in there! That's when it clicked. I knew who he shot. And I was screaming, 'It's Larry, we need to get back to Larry,'" she remembered.

Following school procedure, everyone had to remain behind locked doors, because no one knew what the shooter might do.

Shortly after the shooting, Brandon was picked up by police just a few blocks away from the school and was immediately charged as an adult with murder. Larry had been rushed to the hospital, but two days later, he was taken off life support and died on Valentine's Day.

News of the shooting quickly spread, and motives began to emerge. Media outlets reported that Brandon had killed Larry "allegedly because he identified himself as gay." Those who knew Brandon said he was not a violent kid, so what could have driven a 14-year-old to commit such a crime?

According to friends and administrators, Brandon and Larry seemed to have been on a collision course.

"It wasn't a perfect storm, but it was a storm," Boldrin said.

On the surface, the kids seemed to be polar opposites. Brandon was described as a typical eighth-grade boy, a jock. He was tall, athletic and popular. Boldrin said he was not a misfit by any means and above all he was respectful.

Larry, on the other hand, was short, slight and emotionally immature -- an eighth grader who teachers said read at a third-grade level. He was also described as effeminate.

"He was soft-spoken," said Boldrin. "You wouldn't have looked at him and go, "Oh, he's outwardly gay or something."

But most of Larry's friends were girls, including Averi Laskey, his best friend since the third grade.

"He wanted to be himself. He didn't want to follow in other people's footsteps," she said.

Larry had a troubled background. Born to a crack-addicted mother, he was adopted but later removed from his adoptive home and put into foster care.

Shortly after that, Larry started showing up to school wearing girls' clothes, makeup and four-inch heels.