(619) 505-7777

"Valentine Road" - MOPA to screen documentary on Larry King killing | VIDEO

SAN DIEGO – The execution-style murder of 15-year-old Lawrence “Larry” King by a classmate in Oxnard, Calif. on Feb. 12, 2008 stunned the world, and raised a slew of questions about how this could have happened.

Fourteen-year-old Brandon McInerney pulled out a gun and shot Larry in the back of the head in a classroom at E.O. Green Junior High School, a cold-blooded act that left the small boy lying in a pool of his own blood and in a lot of pain as he was dying. Desperate efforts to save Larry’s life at the hospital proved futile.

Director Marta Cunningham’s documentary, “Valentine Road,” digs deep into all the complicated issues that came to play, from how the biracial Larry’s exploration of his gender and sexuality impacted his fellow students to the roots of Brandon’s problems stemming from coming from a broken home and getting involved with a white supremacist.

The documentary – which debuted on HBO last year and was shown at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival – will be shown on Friday, March 7, in San Diego as part of the “Film Forward: Advancing Cultural Dialogue” series of free screenings, discussions and workshops collaborated by the Sundance Institute and the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park.

“Valentine Road” – the name of the street outside the school – is also symbolic of why Larry is dead. He asked Brandon to be his Valentine in front of other boys, apparently humiliating Brandon and triggering his decision to shoot Larry in front of classmates.

Cunningham, as a mother of two, shows how Larry’s murder devastated or ruined so many lives. Young classmates were forever saddled with horrible memories and haunted by thoughts that they could have prevented the murder. Teachers questioned how they responded to Larry’s wearing of makeup and heels to school. Larry’s legal guardian, Brandon’s dysfunctional family members and others bared their souls over this inexplicable act of violence.

Even the judicial system malfunctioned. The first case ended in a mistrial, with five jurors firmly voting for a murder conviction and seven jurors calling it involuntary manslaughter.

Later, three female jurors wondered: Where was Brandon’s rights? It became clear why there was a hung jury.

After the second trial began, a plea deal was reached and Brandon is convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to 21 years to life with no chance of parole. But that means Brandon will be a free man at the age of 39.

The discussion after the documentary

The audience will be asked to discuss the documentary after its free screening on Friday. Issues include LGBT, transgender, gender identity, bullying, family abuse, gun violence, juvenile justice and race.

Where: MOPA, 1649 El Prado, Balboa Park, San Diego

When: 7 pm Friday, March 7

Cost: Free

RSVP: filmrsvp@mopa.org

* * *

Ken Williams is Editor in Chief of SDGLN. He can be reached at ken@sdgln.com, @KenSanDiego on Twitter, or by calling toll-free to 888-442-9639, ext. 713.