Brandon McInerney
Brandon McInerney

(Note: Brandon McInerney was convicted of murdering 15-year-old Larry King, a classmate at E.O. Green School in Oxnard California.  The tragic shooting drew the attention of the national media.  Here, attorney Robyn Bramson , one of the lawyers who represented McInerney, writes about the case and about the “redemption” of their client.)

By Robyn Bramson

robyn.bramson@yahoo.com

I’m not quite sure why I was drawn to watch it on that particular evening, but something inside was pushing me to watch it again.

When I selected Shawshank among the other possible movie options available, Scott Wippert, my law partner and co-counsel in the Brandon McInerney case thought it was a rather dark movie to watch given the festive and celebratory nature of the Fourth.

On the evening of this past Fourth of July I watched The Shawshank Redemption. Of course I’ve probably seen The Shawshank Redemption at least a dozen times, but I hadn’t watched it in years.

I respectfully disagreed with him, and we ended up watching it together.

I remember when I watched the Shawshank Redemption years ago, what struck me of course was the unjustness of Tim Robbins’ character,

Andy Dufresne, being wrongly convicted and incarcerated for life in prison for two murders that he did not commit. That is probably the impact that the movie had on many, if not most people who saw it, and likely the message they took from it.

This time when I watched it, however, something else drew my attention and triggered my emotions. This time I was much more enthralled by Morgan Freeman’s character, Red. This time, I believe, was the first time I’d watched The Shawshank Redemption since meeting Brandon McInerney and since trying, and later resolving Brandon’s case.

Red, like Andy, was a “lifer” at Shawshank Prison for murder. Unlike Andy though, Red, by his own admission, had in fact killed someone. Even when this becomes known, which is fairly early on in the movie, even though Red indisputably took the life of another human being,

Red remains a likable, if not lovable character. Why? I think the answer is because as we watch the movie and get to know Red we come to understand that a person is much more than a crime that they committed. And this very thing is precisely what Scott and I knew and continue to know of Brandon McInerney.

Larry King and Brandon McInerneyWhen Brandon McInerney had just barely turned 14, he shot and killed Larry King, his Eighth grade classmate. It was then and will always be a tragedy, and one which unfortunately cannot be undone. If he could, I know that Brandon would undo it in a heartbeat.

In The Shawshank Redemption Red says, “every man has his breaking point”.

What Scott and I know about Brandon, the horrific abuse and neglect he had long been experiencing at home at the hands of his family, the facts and circumstances and lack of action or intervention that occurred at the junior high school where the shooting took place, which surrounded and lead up to the offense, is that Brandon reached “his breaking point.”

Every man has his breaking point, so does every child. 

California Law on Charging a Juvenile as an Adult

Under California Law a juvenile can be charged as an adult for conduct they are alleged to have engaged in when they were a mere 14-years-old, which Brandon had just turned a couple of weeks before he shot Larry King.

Had the incident occurred a few weeks before, the law would have required that he be charged in juvenile court, which would have jurisdiction over him until his 25th birthday. If that had been the case, Brandon would have been incarcerated in prison for juveniles for over 10 years of his life.

When the Ventura County District Attorney elected, without hesitation or any meaningful exercise of discretion to file Brandon’s case directly in adult court, Brandon’s exposure accordingly became 50+years to life in prison.

If convicted, in our opinion given everything Scott and I know to be true about the parole process, Brandon would never have gotten out of prison, ever. The thought of this was entirely unbearable to Scott and me, and absolutely unjust knowing how amazing and smart Brandon was and the enormous potential he had, if only he could one day get out of prison.

This then, saving Brandon from a lifetime of incarceration, became the goal to be achieved, the intention to be manifested.

The Ventura County District Attorney’s Plea Deal

The Ventura County District Attorney wanted Brandon to plead guilty to first degree murder, and a hate crime, I believe, and agree to a prison sentence of 25 years to life.

Any offer that has what Scott and I refer to as “a life tail” means this: that person becomes eligible for parole after 25 years (or after that number of years specified before the “to life” language), but the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations (CDCR), the parole board specifically, makes the determination as to whether or not the individual will be released on parole.

These “lifers” do not get out of prison, or at least rarely do in our humble opinions. Even if the parole board determines that the individual should be granted parole, the governor must then approve the parole board’s determination and has the absolute power to reject it.

This whole process as far as we can tell is absolutely arbitrary and entirely unlikely to result in a person regaining their liberty. This was our opinion in Brandon’s case.

Thus, the Ventura County District Attorney’s offer was entirely illusory. Had he accepted this offer, Brandon would never have gotten out of prison, even had he literally walked on water from the day he set foot in prison for the next 25 and beyond.

The Shawshank Redemption and Reality

This is where The Shawshank Redemption differs from reality, for Red did eventually get out on parole. And yet it doesn’t seem to bother us viewers that Red finally gets released on parole. In fact, I think most of us, if not all of us are holding our breath and crossing our fingers while watching The Shawshank Redemption hoping that Red will get out.

Fortunately, he does. And this is all that Scott and I wanted and fought for tirelessly in Brandon’s case. All we wanted was a date certain that Brandon could hold on to in his mind knowing that he would get out when that date finally arrived. This did not seem to us, an unreasonable request.

I can’t speak for the jurors who did their civic duty in Brandon’s case over the course of several weeks, listening to and sorting through all the evidence that was presented by both the prosecution and the defense.

Nor can I speak for those jurors who went on to attend subsequent hearings in the Ventura County Superior Court, who showed up in support of Brandon after the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict, which then resulted in a hung jury and the court declaring a mistrial.

I think though, that they were able to see, over the course of People v. Brandon McInerney that which we had come to understand over the course of The Shawshank Redemption. A truth simply and eloquently stated by Red to the parole board at Shawshank Prison:

“I look back on the way I was then, a young stupid kid who committed that terrible crime. I wanna talk to him. I wanna try and talk some sense to him. Tell him the way things are. But I can’t. That kid’s long gone, and this old man is all that’s left. I gotta live with that.”

Brandon McInerney Will Be Nearly 40 Years  Old When He Leaves Prison

Brandon McInerney was our client to whom we owed a duty of loyalty and zealous advocacy. Everything we did during the course of our representation of him was in keeping with those duties.

To this day, Scott and I think of Brandon as a friend, and an extraordinary young man with a bright and promising future. Like Red, Brandon is so much more than the crime that he committed as a kid.

Neither Scott nor I can wait for the day that Brandon is released from prison and is a free man. Scott had said that his goal was for Brandon to one day be able to go to the beach and feel the sand beneath his feet. That picture is etched in my mind as well.

It’ll still be a long time before that happens. Pursuant to the plea agreement with the district attorney that both sides and the court agreed to, Brandon will be almost 40 years old before he gets out of prison.

All this time, from when he was barely 14-years-old and locked up until the day he is ultimately released from prison is a time for redemption. And Scott and I have utter faith in the redemption of Brandon McInerney.

We think everyone else should too.

Attorneys Robyn Bramson and Scott Wippert are lawyers in Ventura, California

By Raul

Raul Hernandez is a former journalist. He has worked as a newspaper reporter for more than 30 years at the El Paso Herald-Post, El Paso Times, Press Enterprise in Riverside, California and the Ventura County Star in California. He was a court reporter for more than 20 years.

25 thoughts on “The Brandon McInerney Redemption”
  1. You guys are pathetic!!! Your tactics will soon catch up to you! Justice will always prevail! Your team is no worse then the criminals!

    1. Larry King wasn’t just a garden-variety homosexual who cross-dressed, he lived up to every single stereotype that gays have been trying to dodge for decades. He flaunted his sexuality in the face of other students for the express purposes of making them uncomfortable. He aggressively sexually harassed other male students despite them not wanting it, and he did so by using vocal taunts and following them into restrooms when they clearly were not interested….and it was revealed in court that at one point he dropped his pants and masturbated in front of others.  He conducted himself in the exact manner which would illicit the type of reaction he got. Had he conducted himself in a similar manner against female students he would have been hauled away by the police. That type of behavior is unacceptable enough for any adult, but to come from a child who was too young to have learned from life experience showed that at the root of his gender identity disorder was a pathology that was not rooted in sane and acceptable human behavior. The bottom line is this: Every concern that was voiced by the dead boy’s mother, the teachers and the students who were complaining were summarily dismissed because school officials were too afraid to stand up for the concerns and rights of straight people when weighed against the fear of being sued and protested against by militant homosexuals in the LGBT community. These same homosexuals who are now lamenting about the circumstances involved in this story would have been the first to leap to the defense of King had school officials stepped in and either put an end to his cross-dressing or reigned in his sexual harassment of other boys. So – what happened when Brandon McInerney – a 14 year old boy – saw none of the people in positions of power doing anything to stop it? He did something unthinkable. Something that was horrifying. Something that is beyond comprehension. What we’re left with is a dead child, a grieving mother, a kid who took a life and ruined his own and school officials who will never be called to account for their malfeasance.

      1. The fact you can sit here and say that he isn’t a typical “Garden variety homo-sexual” WHAT IS A GARDEN VARIETY HOMOSEXUAL ? Lawrence “Larry” King wasn’t a “HOMOSEXUAL” he was a young man who wanted to become a young “lady” the fact you sit here and not only encourage the idea that it is okay to kill someone based on Their sexual orientation is ridiculous , thats like saying ” hey its okay to kill him because he likes peanuts” you sound uneducated and heartless, the bible says to love thy neighbor and although it says a man shall not lie with another man iT doesn’t say “kill him if he doe’s or preferrers to ” thats playing GOD which you are not, it’s hard when people like you populate the world with your “perfect” ideas of society that no one asked you for, because guess what society is not perfect and as bad as you feel for brandon he did a bad thing, there is no excuse for MURDER you cant kill someone then say ” sorry i didn’t mean it ” the boy is dead he can’t graduate or enjoy his life, his family and friends can’t see him smile and he can’t make them happy anymore, did you ever think maybe he made someone’s day everyday he was alive? you ever think he gave someone purpose and meaning everyday he took a breath? this child was an orphan, and not because of any fault of his own, not only was he an orphan he was abused and for the first time in his life he was smiling and didn’t care if anyone knew he was happy or saw. Everything you have said is the equivalent to “hey, i know columbine happened and all but, i don’t feel bad for the kids who died who were gay or lesbian or trans, they don’t matter
        ” wether or not he reached a breaking point, it doesn’t matter , thats like saying because your mom took your pencil you stabbed her to death, but it’s okay because now your sorry and wish to make up for it. Life isn’t a joke, it isn’t YOUR right or anyone else’s to decide when someone is done living. he is guilty and will always be guilty the one who he needs forgiveness from is Lawrence, nothing can absolve you of the blood of an innocent.

      2. That is the most disgusting, homophobic and hateful statement I have ever read. Larry wanted to be himself and he had that righ . He did not harrass anyone. If you cannot handle someone being who they are, you have the problem, not them

        1. He absolutely sexually harrassed multiple young men that has already been estavlished and verified by over 100 of his fellow students and school officials. Know the facts before you look like an idiot. Oh wait its too late.

      3. “Garden-variety homosexual”? “Gender identity disorder”? Your ignorance is beyond comprehension. Next time you want to post what was “revealed in court”, check your facts before writing blatant filthy lies. Your stupidity makes me sad.

        1. The facts are correct, I read them myself. And yes, Larry King was a pervert and a sexual harasser. He deserved to be disciplined and should have gotten professional help.

      4. Beautifully said, and true. Why Brandon did what he did is completely understandable. He should have gotten help, not prison. I blame all the adults at the school and the D.A., Maeve Fox, who is disgusting in her willingness to sacrifice an abused boy’s life in the name of political correctness.

      5. Please accept this belated commendation on your comments regarding Brandon McInerney’s unjust trial as an adult and the absence of punishment for the school administrators who failed to protect both boys by asserting control of young King’s school yard behavior. I am an LA Times contributor and a novelist interested in this case. If you are interested in discussing the case please do contact me. Best Regards, Noel Anenberg

  2. It’s very sad that a tragic death had occurred and what’s worse is that people do not realize first of all I’m a Jew but I consider rascisum is not good and we should egucate the young on how serious that can be it’s not ok for you to go around and draw pictures of burning the Jewish star I should know I have dear people that I love who are Jewish it’s not ok to put down people know matter what colour and if we teach that to the younger generations we can avoid much tradic events like this one

  3. They still practice “law”? Someone please shut them down. You can’t kill someone because you’ve “reached a breaking point.”

    1. Unfortunately, Vanessa, that’s exactly when most people do kill, when they’ve reached a breaking point. It has nothing to do with condoning it. It’s just a fact. I’m taking a course on the evolutionary psychology of violence, and there is a great book called the Murderer Next Door. Human beings all have the possibility of committing murder within, if we reach a breaking point. Society shouldn’t condone it, but justice must consider it.

  4. Very well written & professional, I admire your law firm & all the work you have done. I also admire the angle you took here. If only Brandon was born a month later :( So that the unforgiving grudge holders wouldn’t have been able to kick him while he was seemingly down.

    “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.

  5. All this talk about Brandon. What about the 15-year-old boy he murdered? Where was Brandon’s apology to his family for robbing them of their child? He didn’t even issue a formal statement, it was just one sentence from his attorney assuring us that he’s sorry.

    Does Brandon actually have remorse for killing Larry, or just regret that he went to prison for it? “If he could, I know that Brandon would undo it in a heartbeat.” To save himself, or to save Larry? I’ve not seen a lick of evidence that Brandon is one bit sorry that Larry is dead, just that he’s paying for his murder. It’s a murder, by the way, not an “incident.”

    What atoning has Brandon done? I mean, just because he’s in jail doesn’t mean he can’t be spending his days undertaking atonement for his murdering another human being. Has he made any effort to speak out against hate crimes, anti-gay violence, etc.? To counsel troubled youths like he was about not resorting to violence? Or is he sitting in jail on his butt, cozying up to his fellow White Supremacists?

    If Brandon wants redemption, he’ll need to do a hell of a lot more than have his lawyers give out milquetoast, sappy pleas for it that whitewash the fact he murdered an innocent person in cold blood in front of his peers.

  6. Is there any way to support Brandon while he serves out this sentence? Send him books? Send funds to a commissary account?

    If so please post details in a reply ITT

  7. Thank you so much for writing this. I have thought about this young man and cried about what happened to him. The adults at the school are to blame for the loss of Larry’s life and should be ashamed of themselves. The D.A. was looking to get votes from the gay community so she basically threw this kid under the bus. Brandon had been abused by his family. He was then abused and humiliated by Larry King. It was the school’s job to stop Brandon’s abuse…NOT to “help Larry find himself by dressing as a girl”. Have we gone mad? Any male on here who doesn’t remember what it was like to be 13 in middle school is a liar. You are a CHILD and should be protected. Brandon should have gotten help after this crime….not adult prison for 21 years. That is cruel and unusual punishment for an abused child. If there is ever anything I can do to help him, don’t hesitate to call on me.

  8. That’a a dirty case: the evidence proves that Brandon has been harassed by the “victim”, but this has not been took into account because in California gay people enjoy special status..

  9. “Brandon will be almost 40 years old before he gets out of prison.” But Larry King will never, ever, turn 40. He was shot in the head, twice, by his classmate.

    I have to question an attorney who tattoos “Save Brandon” on her wrist. Your interest in your client is clearly more than professional. CA would be wise to investigate you for an unethical relationship with our client, a minor.

  10. If a woman dressed provocatively, does it mean she deserved to be raped?

    If a man verbally sexually harassed a woman and she killed him, there would be zero question that she was not in the right.

    Women get beat up for years and do not get sympathy or leniency for killing their husbands.

    A woman in the news now, Cyntoi Brown, killed the man that bought her as a CHILD sex slave and raped HER her and she got life.

    So this kids inability to buck up and get some thick skin, is his issue.

    We would never , EVER sympathasise with a murdering bully if it was a straight kid or a female doing this, even if the other kid was verbally teasing him like all kids do. People suffer way more with school bullies and don’t murder people.

  11. Late to the party. Okay so everyone defending the killer needs to take a step back and look at themselves.

    Harassment does not need to be dealt with death.

    Though I don’t condone anyone getting their ass kicked I think a good old fashioned fist fight would’ve solved the ‘harassment’. Brandon did not have to go shoot Larry. Pretty sure one good punch would’ve been more than enough.

    Also the woman who had Save Brandon tattoo on her wrist seems to be romantically in love with this boy. Just a bit disturbing.

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