Injustice in Ventura0November 22nd, 2011Uncategorized
While the original hate crimes legislation was passed in 1968 in response to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King and it was not until this year, nearly a half a century later, that Gay people in the United States were similarly protected. In 2009 Congress voted overwhelming and President Obama signed into law the new “hate crimes” law that included gays and transgender. Gays were included in the law in 1998 but transgender had been left out. This essentially means that anyone who commits a crime that falls into the category of a hate crime against members of the LGBT community.
Or so we would think.
The recent ending of the Brandon McInerney trial in Ventura, California, while it ended with the killer going to prison for most of his life, raised a question about the effectiveness of applying hate crimes legislation to the LGBT community. After a hung jury on a charge of First Degree murder with hate crimes enhancement McInerney pled guilty for a lesser charge that will imprison him for 21 years. The question is however, why were six people on the first jury that questioned whether or not that this was a hate crime?
The trial itself showed that Brandon McInerney had been follower of the Neo Nazi philosophy. Instead of looking for the best online colleges, he was spending his time reading and writing about Neo Nazism. We also found out that homosexuality is considered and “abomination” to Nazi´s. Finally we learned that Brandon McInerney killed Larry King because of a perceived sexual advance made by King toward McInerney. So we have a Neo Nazi, who profess and avowed hatred toward homosexuality, murdered a known homosexual because of a perceived sexual advance.
When a Prosecutor seeks a conviction they must prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” all allegations made in the indictment. The indictment in this case alleged that Brandon McInerney was in violation of the hate crimes act of 2009. The law is fairly simple and is listed below.
Public Law #103-322A, a 1994 federal law, defines a hate crime as:
“a crime in which the defendant intentionally selects a victim, or in the case of a property crime, the property that is the object of the crime, because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation of any person.”
There was no doubt that Brandon McInerney attacked King because he percieved his advance as homosexual because there was no testimony that he would have attacked a female for advances. McInerney admitted that he committed the crime because of the advance. The supporting evidence of McInerney being a Neo Nazi sympathizer only sets the fact that his motive was exclusively linked to the hate crimes law. So how could a jury in Ventura, California refuse to accept the obviousness of this.
The fact that it took a plea agreement to put this killer away speaks volumes of the progress in education that needs to be made. It also serves as a warning for gays kids still in school to be aware that while acceptance is coming we still have a long way to go and to be careful because there are still many intolerant people in the world.