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Trial started Tuesday in the case of 17-year-old Brandon McInerney, who is accused of killing gay classmate Lawrence King three years ago after becoming fed up with the 8th grader's open displays of homosexuality.
While prosecutors painted McInerney as an anti-gay white supremacist, the defense told the jury that the then-14-year-old boy acted out of humiliation, no longer able to withstand the embarrassment brought on by King's alleged flirting.
In 2008, Lawrence King began wearing jewelry, high-heeled boots, and makeup to school, reports CNN. By all accounts, he had recently become confident enough to openly display his sexuality.
One day, the animosity between him and Brandon McInerney boiled over when McInerney entered a full classroom and shot King in the back of the head. Twice.
He has been charged with murder as a hate crime, according to the Los Angeles Times, and is being tried as an adult.
Brandon McInerney doesn't deny murdering Lawrence King, but is instead trying to mitigate his actions so that he will only be convicted of voluntary manslaughter.
For murder to be downgraded to voluntary manslaughter, a defendant must have been emotionally or mentally disturbed, and acted with sufficient provocation.
Sufficient provocation generally refers to circumstances under which a reasonable person would have become emotionally or mentally disturbed.
McInerney's attorney alleges that his client's reaction was the result of repeated flirtation and sexual harassment by King, reports the Times.
Assuming that this is true, would an average, reasonable person react the same way as Brandon McInerney did towards Lawrence King? Is being incessantly hit on sufficient provocation for killing a gay classmate? The jury will have to decide.