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Trial to begin in slaying of gay teen Lawrence King

CHATSWORTH, Calif. -- The hate crime trial involving the slaying of openly gay middle school student Lawrence King is set to begin Tuesday, more than three years after 14-year-old Brandon McInerney was accused of shooting to death his classmate.

McInerney, now 17, doesn't deny that he killed King on Feb. 12, 2008, according to his attorneys, Robyn Bramson and Scott Wippert. The lawyers will argue that the killing was voluntary manslaughter because McInerney claims he was provoked by King's sexual advances.

Witnesses will testify that McInerney walked into a classroom in an Oxnard middle school, took his seat, pulled a handgun from his backpack and shot King, who was sitting in the desk in front of him. Testimony will show that the teenager hurled the gun to the floor and walked out of the classroom.

Prosecutor Maeve Fox will argue that McInerney methodically plotted the execution of King and has added a hate crime charge, saying that the teen's actions and hatred of gays were partially motivated by his alleged neo-Nazi beliefs.

McInerney is being tried as an adult utilizing Proposition 21, which allows prosecution of murder charges against youths as young as 14.

A conviction would bring 53 years to life.