The defense in Brandon McInerney's murder trial underway in Chatsworth is trying to suggest that his abusive childhood was a strong contributing factor behind the then-14-year-old's shooting of his 15-year-old gay classmate Larry King in their Oxnard classroom in February 2008.
The Ventura County Star reported that McInerney's aunt, Megan Csorba, his father Billy's sister, testified on Thursday that Brandon's father - who died in 2009 - "would sit on his son until he couldn't breathe, pull his thumb back until he screamed, and punch him in the face."
Csorba testified that the physical and verbal abuse started when Brandon was 7 and only got worse when Billy was on drugs, which apparently was often. She also testified that Brandon's mother Kendra was also a victim of Billy's abuse and also abused drugs - smoking crystal methamphetamine when she was pregnant with Brandon.
Under cross-examination by prosecutor Maeve Fox, Csorba admitted she had never called the police, saying: "I was going through my own abuse and I was not gonna do that to my brother." She also testified that, according to Billy, Brandon has been molested by a cousin.
Fox believes McInerney murdered King because he was a budding white supremacist who hated gays.
History teacher Arthur Saenz testified that he saw King, wearing high heel boots and make-up, parade back and forth in front of Brandon and his friends the day before the shooting. The teacher saw Brandon's friends laughing at him and Brandon had "a lot of anger and rage" watching King.
The Star reports:
"Saenz saw then-assistant principal Joy Epstein survey the scene, wag two fingers at Brandon and say something about "rights." The school administration had previously sent out an email saying it was within King's rights to dress that way.
A few minutes later, Saenz saw Billy coming to pick up his son. Saenz thought Brandon was a smart student but not applying himself, so the teacher told his father.
"That is when his father got extremely upset and he said, 'Brandon, what are you doing? You are going to military school and never going to see the light of day,' " Saenz testified. "I looked at Brandon and you could see him crumbling right there."
Shortly later, Saenz was in Epstein's office with a student and his aunt when King opened the door and stuck his head in. The aunt looked at King in his boots and makeup in disbelief, Saenz said.
"That is junior high," Saenz remembered Epstein saying.
King was fatally shot the next day.
Under cross-examination, Saenz said he didn't report what he now thinks was sexual harassment by King because he thought Epstein was handling it. "She is an administrator and it is her job to handle that situation, not mine."
Billy felt that we didn't really handle it the right way with the sexual act thing. It kind of all balled up inside of him and then all of this stuff happened with this other boy's sexual advances and he was a young kid with all that going on. It was too much for him to handle. I just hope that the true evidence comes out about who my brother really is. He's not a monster. He's not a white supremacist.