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Friday, February 15, 2008

More Heartbreaking Details…

posted by on February 15 at 11:21 AM

…are emerging about the 15 year-old gay kid shot by a classmate in California.

[Greg King] said his son was headstrong, confident, artistic and sweet. Larry King loved to sing songs by folk rock trio Crosby, Stills and Nash, and was studying “The Star-Spangled Banner” in hopes of singing it at his younger brother’s baseball games, his father said. “He had a very gifted singing voice.” He was so good, in fact, that one of Greg King’s friends — unaware of the family’s tragedy — called Wednesday to say his son should audition for “American Idol.”


It’s some comfort to know that this kid, shown above, had the support of his family before he was gunned down for the crimes of being effeminate and making the straight boys at his school uncomfortable.

And to all the unhinged Chris Crocker haters out there? I don’t mean folks that find Crocker annoying, but folks that seem to be utterly enraged by Crocker’s effeminacy? I hope you realize that your fury—the irrational fear and hatred you direct at feminine men—helped pull the trigger in this case.

Larry King will be taken off life support today, his organs will be donated, and he will die. Somehow I doubt we’ll see a crowd of Christian fundamentalists outside the hospital today, Schaivo-style, demanding that the brain-dead gay teenager be kept alive artificially. Once Larry King is dead, the charges against the 14 year-old boy that shot him will be upgraded from attempted murder to murder. The state of California plans to charge King’s murderer as an adult.

More details at Towleroad.

RSS icon Comments


sad sad sad. wtf is wrong with people?

Posted by Mike in MO | February 15, 2008 11:30 AM

Why are they charging the kid as an adult? He isn't, and he shouldn't be.

Posted by NaFun | February 15, 2008 11:37 AM

Although this case is a tragedy, it's good to know that there are some supportive parents out there, particularly fathers. While his death was a horror, it's good to know that his fifteen years alive were surrounded by a loving and supportive family.

Posted by Sara | February 15, 2008 11:47 AM

This is obviously a horrible, sad crime, and the killer should be punished severely, regardless of his motivation. I haven't seen any accounts that have said he was killed because he was gay, or flamboyantly so, though; I know it's a very tempting and obvious conclusion to reach, but wouldn't it be better to wait until all the facts are in before assuming it was a hate crime? I mean, odds are their "long-running dispute" was just based on the victim being gay and the killer being a homophobe, but maybe not?

Posted by Levislade | February 15, 2008 11:48 AM

@ 2: Agreed. That this boy is dead is a heartbreaking tragedy, but teenagers, especially young teenagers, do not have the same thought-processing and decision-making abilities as an adult, despite how adult the consequences of their actions can be.

Posted by Aislinn | February 15, 2008 11:48 AM

This is horrible, without a doubt, but WTF does this have to do with people "enraged by [Chris] Crocker’s effeminacy"?

Don't be so dramatic Dan.

Posted by dude | February 15, 2008 11:51 AM

Wearing high heels and makeup to school isn't "flamboyantly gay" enough for you?

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | February 15, 2008 11:53 AM

@2 and @5, if tried as a juvenile, wouldn't the killer be released at 21, in 6 years, and his record expunged? Is juvie equipped to handle a killer? Should he be in the same population as kids who swipe cars and get caught tagging buildings? I doubt a 15 year old, any 15 year old, who decides that killing someone over any kind of dispute is the right course of action is going to turn into an adult who has better judgement.

Posted by inkweary | February 15, 2008 11:58 AM

What strikes me is how truly touching the comments and thoughts from the parents are. And regardless of the specific reasons for the shooting (either hate based or a pissed-off kid with a gun), the loss of a son who had really great parents is heart-wrenching. Not everyone is so lucky... mine weren't as clued-in and supportive.

Posted by Erin | February 15, 2008 12:01 PM

Yeah, I'm not sure how Crocker works into this. Interestingly enough, I doubt most people hate him because he's gay -- they hate him because he's annoying. Big difference.

That said, the story about this kid is really depressing.

Posted by Jason Josephes | February 15, 2008 12:02 PM
11 the information i read about this the victim had been in foster care at a group home which leads me to think there was some family issues. it makes me angry that after his death the father comes out in support. i have yet to find out why he was in foster care...anybody know?

Posted by kkl327 | February 15, 2008 12:06 PM

This story just guts me. Fucking horrific. That poor boy. All the people that loved him.

I just don't know how people can ever recover from such atrocities. Brutal evidence of man's capacity for cruelty is just about the worst thing in the world.

Posted by kerri harrop | February 15, 2008 12:10 PM

Over on Towleroad a call is being made to various groups to revitalize the Matthew Shepard Act, and I would certainly like to it passed.

But I want to ask about how and when you can cite a story like this for political and fundraising purposes. And I'm not asking to be a smart ass. I really want to know if there is a guideline or a feeling of what's right.

I worked for a state LGBT rights group once where one board member wanted to use the name of a murdered transgendered woman in a fundraising letter and another board member was appalled at the suggestion.

In regard to Lawrence King, a little online research says the boy lived at a therapeutic residential treatment center for abused and trouble children, Casa Pacifica, of Camarillo, CA.

Because I want to DO something--and can really do nothing for Lawrence--I've suggested donating to Casa Pacifica. But maybe I'm wrong. I don't know or have any connection to Casa Pacifica.

One way to go is to see what his parents want done. And here is another observation about the online reaction to the tragedy: does Lawrence belong to the larger LGBT community, his family or the Oxnard community? Or does he belong to all?

Posted by Cath | February 15, 2008 12:10 PM

I also agree that no protesters will show up to try to sway the family to keep him alive, but how much you wanna bet that Westboro has something up their sleeve for the funeral.

Posted by *gong* | February 15, 2008 12:11 PM

Stop saying Mean Things about ECB!

Posted by Chris Crocker in Seattle | February 15, 2008 12:12 PM

It is entirely possible that Larry King wasn't a particularly nice person.

It doesn't mean he deserved to get shot in the head, and quite frankly I don't think it's asking too much of teenagers to exercise coarse levels of judgment regarding murder.

And Dan? Larry King is already dead.

Posted by Yeek | February 15, 2008 12:14 PM

I am not sure about the trying him as an adult either. Not saying it is a bad idea but not sure it is a good idea either.

Still, what about the perpetrator's parents? Where is their responsibility in all of this? Kid's learn this sort of shit from ((drum roll please)) mom and dad in most cases.

Posted by Andrew | February 15, 2008 12:14 PM

First off, folks who thinks this "child" shouldn't be charged as an adult are naive as hell. Anybody who commits a crime involving a firearm - no matter their age - deserves to be tried as an adult. Period. And this kid is 14 years old...the claim that his brain doesn't understand the potential outcome (of consciously bringing a gun to school, targeting another student and pulling the trigger) is utter nonsense. Quit trying to make excuses for this killer; he deserves a lengthy prison sentence so that the rest of the community need not fear becoming his next target.

Second...I don't know why Dan is so quick to jump on the "shot because he was gay" bandwagon. Though that article briefly mentions that they may charge the suspect with a hate crime, and that the victim had been made fun of for being gay in the past, I have yet to see a report stating that he was explicitly targeted by the shooter just for being gay. I'm not saying it isn't true, I just don't see where people are getting this information. Is it an assumption, or proven fact?

Regardless, what a bad situation.

Posted by Seattle Crime Blogger | February 15, 2008 12:14 PM

@18, suppose a 9 year old uses a gun: life in prison for the kid? Perhaps death penalty?

Posted by Soooo | February 15, 2008 12:16 PM

This is horrifying in so many ways. I have a middle-school son who doesn't seem to be exploring his sexual orientation yet (that we know of!) but is definitely different from his peers in a variety of ways, and they are so hideously cruel, I worry that someday one of them will try to seriously injure him or worse just because he (this word has been used) "annoys" them. The school gives voice to anti-bullying platitudes but no teeth in enforcement (in fact our son repeatedly gets in trouble for trying to stand up for himself or telling the other kids to leave him the hell alone); I wonder how these children grew up thinking it was OK to persecute people who were different from them. I so often want to withdraw him from school and therefore society altogether but that will not serve him when he gets older ... sometime he would have to go back to being part of the world. If you have a child, question them hard about how they deal with kids who are "different" ... look to see if they are developing attitudes and behaviors that may be harming others. Again, it doesn't just involve prejudice based on sexual orientation, race, gender, religion, size ... there is anti"different" bias running rampant too.

Posted by parent | February 15, 2008 12:17 PM

@8: In order:

If it isn't, how is it the child's fault?

How is this relevant to him not being an adult?

Adults have better judgment, and thus are tried as adults. So we assume that this kid killed someone because of better judgment, rather than worse?

Posted by Vasya | February 15, 2008 12:17 PM

I think he should be tried as an adult. If the killer were a black 14 year old there wouldn't have been any question. 14 IS old enough to know that shooting someone in the head is not only against the law but very very wrong.

Posted by monkey | February 15, 2008 12:19 PM

I liked this post Dan. Well-written. Appropriate. Time to go cry now.

Posted by onion | February 15, 2008 12:27 PM

I suppose the question to consider is whether this 14 year old boy showed all the 'adult' objectives of planning this attack. Did he have a motive? Did he seriously premeditate the crime? Did she understand that shooting someone in the head might kill them? Did his actions following the crime (i.e. fleeing) illustrate comprehension of wrongdoing?

It goes the other way as well, you know. Mentally retarded "adults" are often held to a lesser scale of punishment if there is reasonable evidence that they couldn't premeditate and understand their crime with a normal adult's degree of insight.

If the evidence is there that this kid really knew what he was doing, I see no reason not to hold him to the same standard that we hold adults to. Perhaps the evidence needs to be stronger to make that distinction, but I don't think we should rule it out 'because he's just a kid.' We're not talking about making a bad or unrealistic 'teen idiot' decision here.

Posted by Yeek | February 15, 2008 12:27 PM

Glad to see everyone knowing exactly what age someone should be tried as adult. Question though: if you can be tried as adult at 14 or 12 or 10, does it not logically follow that at those ages one should have the responsibility of an adult if society is goig to punish them as such. (you should also be able to vote etc) (Also, does California have the death penalty? In that case is he open to being put to death?)

This is not the first nor the last case of a young teenager who is going to take a gun to school and kill a fellow student. We have a much bigger problem than "locking the door and thowing away the key or throwing the switch".

And are we to assume everyone here has seen all the evidence? And we are prepapred to convict him without a trial?

Posted by Andrew | February 15, 2008 12:27 PM

So, this kid was "annoyed" by an effeminate classmate? Wait until he arrives in prison as young fresh meat. How "annoying" is the boy with the fingernail polish going seem compared to getting his little ass pounded as a prison bitch?

Posted by Cat in Chicago | February 15, 2008 12:32 PM

eh, some judgment should be known by 14. like, say, not intentionally killing people?

i feel sad that such a young boy was corrupted at such a young age. (yes, corrupted, as most 14 year old boys do not kill others.) but he was. we should work to change the forces that corrupt, but we must also deal with him as he is, and with others as they are.

i would hope he could get counseling in prison, and if contrite, if reformed, could see the light of day at some point way down the road. certainly not when he turns 21, though. if you have to try him as an adult to attain these ends, then that is what you must do.

and it's not that odd. the law allows people as young as 14 to be tried as adults. were not changing the rules up on him, even if we are changing the expectations.

Posted by infrequent | February 15, 2008 12:33 PM

we do give more "rights" to people as they age. and when we try as an adult, we take into consideration the accused's mental capacity.

the point is, to try as a child mandates certain sentencing guidelines that would not seem appropriate for a 14 year old.

Posted by infrequent | February 15, 2008 12:37 PM


The report “Jailing Juveniles” shows how difficult is it to keep children safe in adult jails. In fact, youth have the highest suicide rates of all inmates in jails. Youth are 36 times more likely to commit suicide in an adult jail than in a juvenile detention facility, and 19 times more likely to commit suicide in an adult jail than youth in the general population. Youth in adult jails are also at great risk of physical and sexual assault. Findings in the report document that 21% and 13% of all substantiated victims of inmate-on-inmate sexual violence in jails in 2005 and 2006 respectively, were youth under the age of 18 (surprisingly high since only 1% of jail inmates are juveniles).

Posted by NaFun | February 15, 2008 12:42 PM

Why don't we have a SLOG post about "More heartbreaking details" from the NIU shooting?

Does this story only get more press because the kid was gay?

Equal time please. The NIU tragedy was much worse given the larger scope of those affected.

Reality Check

Posted by Reality Check | February 15, 2008 12:45 PM

People want to dish out an adult sentence because our society is dominated by self-righteous, vindictive assholes. Our whole criminal justice system is quickly becoming focused soley on exaggerated (and unscientific) notions of personal responsibility and revenge.

Not too long ago, on another forum, there was this big debate about a crime where a 13 year old boy raped and tortured an 8 year old girl. Half the posters on the forum felt that the kid should be tried as an adult and should probably face the death penalty, because his crimes were so heinous. Their argument ultimately boiled down to the idea that a 13 year olds brain chemistry is similar enough to adults to assign an adult motive. But there was a simple answer to this idiotic argument: if a 13 year old is just as responsible for his or her actions as an adult, why can't a 13 year old consent to sex?

If a child really is an adult, why child protection laws? If we can execute a kid, why can't pedos fuck a kid? Seriously. Scoff all you want, but if you're going to assign adult responsibilities and adult punishment (btw: putting a kid on death row is worse than child abuse, and anyone who would sentence a kid to that is as bad as a child abuser, regardless if it's carried out by the state) to juveniles, then prepare to lower the age of consent, the legal age to drink and vote, etc.

But if you don't think a child is prepared to handle these things, then please be smart and concede that a child is also not an adult under the criminal justice system. Or shut up. I don't care who or what his victim is or what the motive was.

And just to clarify, it doesn't matter if black juveniles are tried more harshly than white juveniles; that doesn't automatically make it ok to subject all children to harsh and draconian laws. It only means that we need to fix the system so black kids are not unfairly singled out.

Posted by Jay | February 15, 2008 12:46 PM

@29, 31: Thank you, you both made excellent points that speak to what trying a child as an adult truly means.

Just because a teenager can know semantically that killing someone is wrong and that shooting someone in the head will kill them, does NOT mean they have the decision-making skills and comprehension of the meaning of those well-rehearsed consequences. Teenagers are impulsive and prone to an "indestructable" view of themselves. They can walk like adults, and they can talk like adults, but comparing the physiological function of decision-making in their brains to that of an adult is inaccurate. Perhaps Science could weigh in on this, but if I have time at lunch I'll try and back that statement up with additional resources.

Posted by Aislinn | February 15, 2008 1:07 PM

Yes, California has the death penalty.

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | February 15, 2008 1:08 PM

If the murderer is tried as a juvenile in California, his sentence cannot extend past the age of 21 and he walks out with a clean criminal record. What sort of message does that send to other teenagers who want to change the world with a gun?

For better or worse, this society does not send people to prison because prison rehabilitates criminals. It sends people to prison to deter other people from committing crimes. Letting a vicious murderer off with such a light sentence will absolutely increase the probability that other kids will kill to settle disputes - and trust me, kids in Southern California do not need any more encouragement to bring guns to school than they already have.

This is not just about the fact that this murder was a hate crime (although that adds an extra-bitter layer to the tragedy). At my high school in Southern California there were guns everywhere. In a neighboring town the high school was surrounded by barbed-wire fence and everybody had to pass through a metal detector before entering. Teen-on-teen gun violence is already too pervasive. Most people don't even pay attention anymore unless the shooting happens at school or involves kids outside of the "at-risk for gang involvement" demographics.

A 14-year old kid is absolutely mature enough to understand that it is wrong to shoot another human being. Those that do it anyway deserve much more than a slap on the wrist. Perhaps there needs to be an option between the minimal juvenile sentencing guidelines and the full-blown adult penalties. If the only two options are the existing ones, though, then I vote to try the murderer as an adult. The alternative is a terrible precedent to set.

Posted by Kerry | February 15, 2008 1:29 PM

youth in prison: i certainly think juveniles should be kept "safe" in prison, even if an adult one. (by the way, your stats make is seem less likely for youth to commit suicide in juvy than out!)

consensual sex: yes, that is regarding an adult having sex with a minor, not minor's having sex with minors. we let them do that. the age of consent certainly differs from state to state and country to country.

i just cannot get my head around that idea that a 14 year old could be out at 18 after murdering someone in this manner. if that is what the most severe punishment and time for counseling would mean amount to, then try him as an adult and give him a lenient sentence.

or change the system, and let a youth tried as someone under 18 serve a sentence that can last longer than until they are 18, or 21.

Posted by infrequent | February 15, 2008 1:43 PM

Yes, because spending over 5 years in prison is such a slap on the wrist. Give me a break.

Posted by Jay | February 15, 2008 1:51 PM

I find it hard to believe that any of you can seriously say that a 14 year old murderer should not be tried as an adult. Pathetic liberal bullshit. You are offering excuses for this young man's behavior, instead of looking at it from a reasonable perspective: he brought a gun to school and shot a classmate. He made a decision, and now should be forced to live with the consequences. If he faces a juvenile court, as some folks have already brought up, he'll be out in less than a decade. Someone who planned the murder of one their peers and brought a weapon into an academic institution is not to be trusted in the slightest, and the idea of releasing him after he served a short sentence at a youth prison is absurd.

@31: In the end, it's better to be a self righteous, vidictive asshole than a stupid hippie who lets emotion overtake reason.

Posted by Seattle Crime Blogger | February 15, 2008 1:56 PM


In today's LATimes, according to one classmate, Lawrence did not have the support of his family, but he did have the support of family:

Student Averi Laskey, 13, said she had known King since grammar school and liked him. She said that only in the last two weeks had he begun dressing in a feminine manner.

"Even if he was different, he didn't deserve it," she said.

Laskey said King was happy at Casa Pacifica, although he had to take a long bus ride to and from school every day. He said he grew up in a troubled home, she said.

"He never felt like he had a family, but he told me when he got to Casa Pacifica that he had one there," Laskey said.
"In the 15-year history of this organization, this is the first time we've seen the district attorney act this swiftly and clearly to say 'This will not be tolerated,' " said Jay Smith, executive director of the Ventura County Rainbow Alliance, a nonprofit group that advocates for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights.

"We're assuming that the hate crime component has to do with [King's] sexuality," Smith said. "Because of that, we are very eager to see the district attorney follow through."

Smith said King had participated in Friday night rap sessions at the alliance's offices in Ventura. The sessions are for youths ages 13 to 23 regardless of their sexual orientation, Smith said.

Posted by Cath | February 15, 2008 2:07 PM

KILL THE KID!! Screw the KID!! I don't care if he is 5 years old!! KILL HIM NOW!!! PUBLIC EXECUTION!! DEATH DEATH!!!

Posted by Right Wing Wacko | February 15, 2008 2:11 PM

In an email I have received from Ventura County Star staff writer Adam Foxman concerning the memorial wishes of Lawrence King’s family, “the family set up a memorial fund to pay for his funeral, and if there is any leftover money, that will go to the college education of Larry's little brother, who was close to him.”
Adam Foxman
Staff Writer
The Ventura County Star
805 437 0267

Posted by Cath | February 15, 2008 2:20 PM


So why can't I fuck 13 year olds? I mean, if they're exactly the same as adults, why do we even have protections for minors? Why aren't they working in factories? I mean, why waste such a great labor resource when clearly minors are quite capable of signing their lives over to employers?

I'm afraid you're the irrational one. Like most "eye for an eye" cavemen, your stance is based entirely on some "philosophical" moral assumption about free will and the nature of evil. You just assume that minors are exactly the same as adults, and simply ignore the expertise of child development experts who would tell you that physiological differences make 14 year olds categorically NOT ADULTS.

In these anti-intellectual, anti-science times, people invariably fall back on primitive emotional arguments, bluster and biblical morality when it comes to justifying their barbaric ideas about the justice system. See, I could talk about how teenagers are not adults all day, but you'd just keep repeating the same presumptuous "free will" argument:

ME: Studies have shown that the brains of minors are not fully developed and that they tend to be impetuous, excercising less judgement than adults and acting without foresight.

YOU: Hur hur, no! 14 year old have free will! Ogg know kid made rational choice. He cannot be reformed!

Basically, your notion of justice is as backward and irrational and Sharia law. And of course experts and otherwise educated people who don't agree with you are a bunch of limp-wristed liberal faggots.

Congratulations. A loser is you.

Posted by Jay | February 15, 2008 2:28 PM

@2 & 5: Bullshit. By the time you reach high school, you've progressed mentally beyond the point where you should realize shooting somebody is wrong and there are severe consequences for murder. The killer's not an invalid- he knew full well what he was doing.

Posted by Tdub | February 15, 2008 2:34 PM

1) trying him as an adult doesn't prevent his age from being a consideration in both the trial and in sentencing.

2) the sex argument: a 13 can have sex with another 13 year old. we trust them to interact with others of their age. the sex laws are to protect 13 year olds from adults. this is a case where we are protecting people from a minor, not protecting a minor from adults.

3) the sex murder comparison: you assume that if one can be tried as an adult for murder then they must be treated as an adult in all ways. why is that? can we not say different crimes require different standards? that's certainly the way the rest of the law works.

4) the law already exists defining at what age a youth can be tried as an adult for murder. you are the one who wants to change the law, therefore it is you who must provide the rationale.

4) this kid was 14, not 13.

Posted by infrequent | February 15, 2008 2:38 PM

Aislinn @32:

Yes, there is plenty of science to back up your points about teenage brain development. For a start:

While his crime was horrific, the decision to try this boy as an adult should definitely be cause for controversy, as several commenters have already pointed out. Revenge aside, what good will it do?

And I'm glad Dan mentioned Chris Crocker. I think he's absolutely right, and people who insist on their hatred of CC scare me.

Posted by Irena | February 15, 2008 2:41 PM

I knew shooting was wrong in high school, but I did all kinds of stupid shit because my hormones were out of wack and my outlets were generally destructive. For example, I once set another 15 year old's room on fire with a shitty molotov cocktail with the intent to cause bodily harm. I got into fights all the time and some of them went far beyond playground scuffles. Between the drugs, weapons and general violent behavior, I could have killed someone too. But around 17, the anger began to dissipate as I matured, and by time I was 21 I was a somewhat depressive, but non-violent adult working towards a college degree.

You see, when I was a teenager I had extremely poor judgement, largely resulting from irrational anger, mostly tied to hormonal imbalances and other problems that began with puberty. When I was a kid I was a straight A student, but from about the age of 13 to 17, I was out of control and could have very easily hurt someone. You can talk about free will and responsibility all you want, but I don't even recognize who I was then. And there are plenty of experts on adolescents who would identify spikes in the same kind of behavior around the same time. So no, moral parameters are often way out of wack with kids; often times you don't know who you are when you're that age.

So no, I certainly don't think teenaged behavior, however violent or awful, should be measured against adult behavior. I could have ended up in jail too (in fact, I did spend some time locked up), and I'm glad that there were some child welfare protections in place to keep me from ruining my life. If I were tried as an adult, for say breaking and entering, I would have been exposed to things in prison that probably would have driven me further away from reform and closer to something like pathological criminality.

Posted by Jay | February 15, 2008 2:51 PM

43: The point of the 13 year old sex thing has nothing to do with the law in itself. What I'm saying is that if we agree that a 13 or 14 year old can make an adult decision and we agree that they can be punished as adults, then we must also agree that they can make rational adult decisions about sex, sex with other minors and adults. How can a kid function as an adult when it comes to violence, but cannot functions as an adult and enter the work force or take on an adult sex partner? There's no way to escape this paradox. Either kids are kids, or they're adults. Which is it?

Posted by Jay | February 15, 2008 2:58 PM

i think teenagers brains do work differently than adults. what do we do with that? excuse them from any aberrant behavior? even things that all other teenagers know is wrong?

i'm not saying this out a desire for revenge, but out of a desire for justice. "justice" is not, as i use it, as code word for revenge. justice is an unlimited good that allows society to function.

until the scale slides to where it should be, where there isn't a huge barrier at 18 and/or 21, until there is a continuum between minor and adult, we have to fake that middle-ground.

we fake it by trying him as an adult, and considering the fact that he is a 14 year old.

that is not done by trying the instigator of a cold-blooded, public murder with the protections afforded because he is a minor. this is not a five year old, or even a nine year old. this was not throwing rocks through a window. this was a 14 year old doing what no one else posting on this board has ever done.

in the meantime, we should make jails safer for everyone, remove the social stigma against people who are "different", reduce our culture's love of violence and gun play, provide more counseling for criminals, and remove the strict one day line between adult and minor. those are noble aims, but, unfortunately, they are going to take a while to achieve.

does this sound like a caveman grunting out the syllables "eye for eye" to you?

Posted by infrequent | February 15, 2008 3:09 PM

Dan, don't try to pin this man's tragic death on criticisms of Chris Crocker.

Posted by Gabriel | February 15, 2008 3:14 PM


The comparison of age-of-consent laws and trying teenagers as adults does not compute. Adults have greater power over children and teenagers. Consequently, it's the adults who have to take responsibility for sexual exploitation of a minor.

This teenager decided all on his lonesome to kill another person. If an adult manipulated him into doing it, you might have a point, but nothing in this case points to any manipulation.

Posted by keshmeshi | February 15, 2008 3:17 PM

@45. sounds like you had a crazy life. i think even burning a room and accidentally killing someone -- as stupid and terrible as that would have been -- isn't as bad as what happened here.

@46. first off, sex does not equal violence. to say a minor should be held to an adult standard in one way does not mean they should be held to all adult standards. for example, 16 year olds have to follow all the traffic rules that adults are bound to. yet they can still go to juvenile court when a violation occurs. there is no paradox to say we expect more as a person ages from a child to an adult. there is no magical line on the calendar -- even if there was, it would certainly be different from person to person.

personally, i think everyone should be tried as an "adult", and the age be a consideration in the verdict and sentencing. put sentence requirement and limitations based on age if you must. all murder seems insane to me. this child is either so insane, or is normal and acted in such a corrupt manner that five years is not enough.

@49 thanks! that's what i was trying to say @43. you did it much better.

Posted by infrequent | February 15, 2008 3:19 PM

@41: position is wrong...because unlike you, I'm relying on REASON instead of what some child psychotherapists say. You even admitted in your most recent post that you behaved similar to this suspect when you were a youth; so right there, you've freely admitted that your personal experience has an impact on your judgment. Case in point: your memories and the emotion surrounding them have kept reason from rearing its head.

You can debate it all you want, and throw out as many "this study said this!" excuses as you'd like...but a study of limited scope, conducted by some child psychotherapist looking for a specific conclusion, is not the real world. The bottom line is that there are some people who are simply unfit for life in a civilized society. These people must be ostracized and isolated so as not to detract from the quality of life that the rest of the law-abiding community works to achieve. If I were practicing "Sharia law," I'd be calling for this kid's execution. Which I'm fact, I strongly oppose execution on the grounds that the government has no business taking the lives of those citizens under its care. What I am saying is that this suspect deserves to be tried in an adult court of law for comitting an adult crime. Plain and simple.

And regarding your absurd claims about sex with underage teens: the two are like comparing apples and oranges. Ccommitting a murder is a sign of aggression, a violent act that involves lashing out at another human being because you could not control your anger. Consenting to sex is the complete opposite, something that a young person - especially in our society that thinks teaching "abstinence-only" education is of some value - might be tricked or manipulated into.

The only way society will evolve is when we learn to not let emotion get in the way of progress. You, my friend, are doing little but contributing to a world stuck in a cycle of repetition, where we see problems and have practical ways to solve them but fear doing so might not be "compassionate."

Posted by Seattle Crime Blogger | February 15, 2008 3:22 PM

47: No that doesn't sound eye for eye or barbaric to me. I wasn't really responding to what you put forth in this post though; I was responding to the the more agressive posts above.

Posted by Jay | February 15, 2008 3:25 PM

41: Yes, because science is only science when it agrees with your ideology. The "real world" you refer to is largely a construct based on your moral assumptions.

Posted by Jay | February 15, 2008 3:29 PM

Tdub, infrequent (hello again!), Seattle Crime Blogger: I implore you to do some more research on teen brain development and then reconsider your positions with first science, and then empathy in mind. While you may have anecdotal evidence of making great decisions yourselves at these ages and are generalizing that out to other teens, research supports the idea that teen brains are not fully developed and that their decisions need to be considered seperately from those of adults.

Start with this excerpt from Irena's second link:

While this work suggests a wave of brain white matter development that flows from front to back, animal, functional brain imaging and postmortem studies have suggested that gray matter maturation flows in the opposite direction, with the frontal lobes not fully maturing until young adulthood. To confirm this in living humans, the UCLA researchers compared MRI scans of young adults, 23-30, with those of teens, 12-16.4 They looked for signs of myelin, which would imply more mature, efficient connections, within gray matter. As expected, areas of the frontal lobe showed the largest differences between young adults and teens. This increased myelination in the adult frontal cortex likely relates to the maturation of cognitive processing and other "executive" functions. Parietal and temporal areas mediating spatial, sensory, auditory and language functions appeared largely mature in the teen brain. The observed late maturation of the frontal lobe conspicuously coincides with the typical age-of-onset of schizophrenia—late teens, early twenties—which, as noted earlier, is characterized by impaired "executive" functioning.

Another series of MRI studies is shedding light on how teens may process emotions differently than adults. Using functional MRI (fMRI), a team led by Dr. Deborah Yurgelun-Todd at Harvard's McLean Hospital scanned subjects' brain activity while they identified emotions on pictures of faces displayed on a computer screen.5 Young teens, who characteristically perform poorly on the task, activated the amygdala, a brain center that mediates fear and other "gut" reactions, more than the frontal lobe. As teens grow older, their brain activity during this task tends to shift to the frontal lobe, leading to more reasoned perceptions and improved performance. Similarly, the researchers saw a shift in activation from the temporal lobe to the frontal lobe during a language skills task, as teens got older. These functional changes paralleled structural changes in temporal lobe white matter.

More simply: while a teen may have the language skills and sensory perception of an adult, when it comes to emotion they think with an evolutionarily more basic part of their brain (the amygdala). Their cognitive functioning may be on par with adults in the written and spoken word or their understanding of something like music or art, but their emotions and therefore decisions are governed by different neural processes than those of adults. This is not a liberal spare-the-child argument, it's about the absolute value of justice, and avoiding over-punishment. The perpetrator of this crime deserves to be punished, yes. But trying him as an adult, and putting him into adult prison, would be turning him into another victim.

Posted by Aislinn | February 15, 2008 3:29 PM

Even in the gay community there are annoying people. People completely out of control just like in any other community. Disliking their annoying attitude does not make anyone guilty of a crime against some other poor kid that has been victim of a hate crime. There is a difference. One is going beyond his being effeminate (which is just who he is) to do anything for attention to be famous the other is just being himself and not annoyingly pulling a Paris Hilton.
Some people are just loud mouths and annoying and have no control.
Effeminate or not effeminate loud moth wannabes are just annoying.

Posted by -B- | February 15, 2008 3:30 PM

54: Sadly, that's not going to change his mind because like a lot of conservatives, he rejects any science that doesn't conform to his belief system.

Posted by Jay | February 15, 2008 3:30 PM

Someday, I will learn to italicize after line breaks. The paragraph about MRI studies is also from the NIMH link:

Posted by Aislinn | February 15, 2008 3:32 PM

You seem too set in your convictions, @56. I believe in science more than most, hence my strong support for evolution and atheism...and disgust for those who lack such beliefs. Conservative? Yes. If by believing in individual responsibility and small government, absolutely. Neoconservative? Absolutely not.

Posted by Seattle Crime Blogger | February 15, 2008 3:37 PM

Reading the arguements on how justice should be served, and should this murderer be tried as an adult or child etc;.I could not help but think of the girls who feel at 14 or so that they are ready for the adult responsibilties that go along with having children.I realize of course that giving birth is no comparsion to murder,but this also has an impact on society,I'm sorry I didn't read where he was able to get the gun...not that it matters I suppose.I imagine weapons can had pretty cheap on the street,teenagers can be very resorceful when they want to be.Undeveloped minds,if that is indeed what teenagers have show uncanny ability outsmart adults...clever like foxes some are.I mean,well,i am.....just wondering.

Posted by just wondering | February 15, 2008 3:38 PM

Harvey Milk's assassin, Dan White, was aquitted of murder due, in part, to the infamous "Twinkie defense" (eating a lot of sugary junkfood caused him to temorarily lose his judgement), the other defense strategy was to reject jurors sympathetic to homosexuality. Since we are talking about California juries here, I am sure that the teenage hormone/lack of judgement defense will result in a light sentence, if any, for the shooter. The fact that the victim was perceived as Gay should further work in the shooter's favor. Those of you worried about his well-being in jail really don't have much to worry about, he will probably walk, and soon. I am not an advocate of the death penalty, which cannot return victim to life or bring any truly satifactory closure to survivors; but we do have a responsibility to sequester violent people from open society when they commit atrocities and this is an atrocity. I suppose teenage prisons are the next penological market niche.

Posted by inkweary | February 15, 2008 3:44 PM

My sex argument stands. If a child is not mature enough to make a choice regarding their own sexual lives (even if the decision is a result of manipulation), they are not mature enough to be held accountable to adult standards of behavior. Now, I agree that maybe we can try everyone the same and take age into consideration on a case to case basis (and certainly I support reform of the prison system), but we must also agree then that age makes a difference. That a 14 year old is simply not an adult. If a 14 year old can be manipulated by an adult into having sex, they cannot be called competent enough to stand trial as adults. A kid can't be rational about violence and then a babe lost in the woods when it comes to sex.

Posted by Jay | February 15, 2008 3:47 PM


1) hello again.
2) how did you search past blogs?
3) i read those articles before posting. i'm not sure we disagree (though you might disagree with seattle crime blogger and tdub) on anything expect what punishment should be appropriate.

i don't think 5 years (at most) and then a clean slate guarantee is appropriate. this boy needs counseling, and there needs to be the option of a longer sentence if he still seems a danger. maybe the first chance for parole after 5 years.

i do agree that prisons should be safer -- but should you stop sending people there because they are unsafe? or give someone less time there? how about we make them safer? or let him sit in juvy until he's 18/21, then let him switch populations? and then, how about we remove the distinction between minor and adult, and treat each case on it merits? convict and sentence accordingly. (as a side note, i think that some convictions should be removed from your record after a certain amount of time.)

even after reading those articles, i have to take what i remember about being a youth, i have to take how all other youths act, and i have to take the present state of things into consideration. there is no question there is something wrong with this kid that isn't wrong with 99.9% of others kids. i don't think that can be undone, or should be forgotten in five years.

Posted by infrequent | February 15, 2008 3:49 PM

This is a horrible tragedy, but I also agree that it is a bit of a stretch to bring Chris Crocker into it. I don’t like Crocker at all. It doesn’t have anything to do with his being effeminate, but it does have a lot to do with how Crocker presents himself.

If you look at the Gay Rights issue, you have folks on one side fighting against the movement like Ken Hutcherson and folks on the other side fighting for it, like Dan Savage and the Stranger. Crocker isn’t fighting for anything except his own celebrity.

In order to see serious advancements, we’re eventually going to have to have people from all backgrounds come together to have an intelligent dialogue. Chris Crocker is a caricature that actually hinders that dialogue. From a mainstream perspective, he debases the discussion.

I mostly find him annoying, but I’ve watched a few of his videos and he can be charming and funny in small doses. I’m willing to accept the fact that the positives he brings to the table like making gay kids trapped in rural environments feel less isolated may outweigh the negatives of turning the gay rights movement into a commercial for Britney Spears. I am also willing to fight for Crocker’s right to say what he wants and be a polarizing figure.

20 years from now, gays will be able to get married. An entire generation will have grown up knowing less hatred toward gays than the generation before them. You may even see a gay president by then. How will history remember Chris Crocker? As a person who helped make that happen or as the movement’s Sambo?

The simple fact of the matter is that one person pulled the trigger here and it is an awful symptom of a much larger problem in our society. I agree that intolerance is what fuels that problem, but do you really want to make liking Chris Crocker the litmus test?

Posted by Clint | February 15, 2008 3:50 PM

62: See, this is a position with merit. This is a rational response.

Posted by Jay | February 15, 2008 3:53 PM

basically, what it boils down to is this:

one group is worried that the boy will be treated too harshly. since he doesn't have the same mental capacities as an adult, why should he be punished as one? not only that, but a child in an adult prison amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.

the other group is worried that the young man will be treated too softly. he murdered someone, and everybody, by 14, knows you don't just shoot somebody. letting him go with a clean record at 18 sends a bad message to other 14 year-olds considering a similar approach to problem solving.

my position is simply that both of you are correct in some way. a middle ground solution need be found. i just don't think that's possible if you try him as a minor. i think is is possible if you try him as an adult, and consider his age. but if he gets life in prison, no counseling, and abused while in jail? no, then justice would not be served.

Posted by infrequent | February 15, 2008 4:15 PM


Dan White also murdered the completely hetero (well, as far as I know) mayor of San Francisco. White got off easy because he was extremely white bread and juries are way too partial to letting clean cut perpetrators go.

I mean, he was a family man. Certainly boy-next-door family men never do anything wrong, it must've been the fucking Twinkies.

Posted by keshmeshi | February 15, 2008 4:37 PM

@62: I can't spend any more work-day time on this discussion (though I like it!), but to address searching past posts, I just used the little "Search Site" box in the upper left-hand corner. I knew the post had to do with Jamie Pederson, so I searched for that and then skimmed the results.

Posted by Aislinn | February 15, 2008 4:39 PM

I see a lot of this argument, from Jay and others:

"Either he's a kid or he's an adult! Which is it? If he can be tried for murder, why can't he [run for office] [have sex with a 50 year old] [other]..." etc.

I think its reasonable to say that the consequences of certain adult behaviors are more subtle and difficult to understand than others. For example, most people can understand how a horny 14 year old might not realize that fucking his 13 year old girlfriend might be a really reckless we don't lock him up when he does it. We hold a 40 year old man to a different standard.

When it comes to shooting someone in the head, though, the consequences are much more obviously concrete. You can argue that a 14 year old doesn't have the foresight to understand the consequences of an inappropriate but consensual relationship.

But to argue that a 14 year old doesn't understand the consequences of shooting someone in the head is absolutely fucking ridiculous.

Precisely because teenagers are not quite as stable as adults but not quite as naive as children, it makes sense to judge their harmful actions based on the amount of insight we'd expect the average teenager to have given the complexity of the situation.

This situation wasn't complex at all. He did a terrible, fatal thing to an unarmed victim, and he knew exactly what the consequences would be. I have no problem with trying this young man as an adult for murder.

Posted by Yeek | February 15, 2008 4:49 PM

I'm not going to get into the "should he be tried as an adult" thing. But I will say that I appreciate Dan sticking up for the sissies. Thanks, Dan!

Posted by Michigan Matt | February 15, 2008 5:21 PM

It's cowardly and irrelevant to blame Chris Crocker haters for the death of this boy. You're an evil person who needs a wake up call. There's a difference between a youtube comment and killing someone. PERIOD.

Posted by reality | February 16, 2008 10:44 AM

yeah straight people are to blame for this like gays were responsible for 911. jerry falwell would be proud by your use of a tragedy to place blame on a stereotype.

Posted by some dude | February 16, 2008 12:45 PM

@ 60, 66

Dan White's defense was that he was severely depressed, and thus shouldn't be found fully culpable for his actions. Twinkies were cited as a symptom of the depression, but that's it. California has since abolished diminished capacity as a defense.

Which is not to say that homophobia and/or clean-cutness didn't make the defense more palatable.

Posted by UnoriginalAndrew | February 16, 2008 4:00 PM

He didn't actually blame Chris Crocker haters for the death of this child. What he said is that the extreme hatred of effeminate men, which characterizes many of Chris Crocker's haters, is the same attitude that led to the child being murdered.

Posted by MarkyP1984 | February 16, 2008 11:44 PM

Oh looookeee. The pro-war neocon SLOG is all hearts when it comes to the senseless death of a single child. Why isn't the pro-war SLOG guilty of promoting the senseless deaths of tens of thousands of children in Iraq since this blog pushes pro-war candidates??? What a bunch of HYPOCRITS you are.

Posted by reynold | February 18, 2008 6:11 AM

#34, you reference "if tried as a juvenile." The current charge is to try this kid as an ADULT. There are HUGE differences in the outcome.

I know the family involved and that is as far as I go with that statement. They want their privacy and I FULLY respect it. I also am a stern opponent of the U.S. trend toward treating juveniles as "adults" in court. If there is to be a measure of doing so, it should be OBJECTIVE rather than political. NOTHING in this trial will bring Larry back. What I DO hope is that, as more people review, discuss and ANALYZE (hopefully) this whole matter (and other similar cases) that they will realize just HOW warped our system has become as a whole.

Too many people are set to blame government for our ills. This is NOT reasonable. We have a SOCIETY which should determine how we run our criminal justice systems, how we protect our youth from serious safety issues such as this, how we encourage tolerance (something tough to find these days in Evangelism) and how we learn to VALUE each other, DESPITE our differences -- whether they be religious, racial, sexual or otherwise. Until we can quit being so sure of our own infallibility, we will continue to suffer the very consequences we saw in this case.

Please -- quit looking at this from the standpoint of "right," "wrong," "gay" or "straight" or even "adult" vs "juvenile." In U.S. society, there are soooo many forces that seem to pull people in directions of judgment rather than support and FIXING what is broken that we have lost sight of helping protect the very people who need it most.

You can all claim "tragedy" all you want, but until you are willing to ACT on it -- until you are willing to SAY OPENLY that which may not be the "norm," and unless you are willing to MAKE THIS WORLD A MORE TOLERANT place, you have NO place in discussing Larry's (or anyone else's) life.

Please look DEEP inside and assess whether or not you TRULY believe in what you say. If you do, make yourself more known, more visible and far more open to criticism which is inevitable when speaking out. On the other hand, staying silent except behind a fake name on the internet is NOT a step forward. It is little more than a way of agreeing to the status quo. God forbid we continue down that path.

Posted by Erika | February 19, 2008 3:08 PM

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