"Valentine Road" kicks off HBO's Documentary Films Fall Series on Oct. 7, 2013, according to information from HBO. The film, about the 2008 murder of a teenage boy by a classmate, is being presented on select dates in Oct., which is National Bullying Prevention Month.
The case of the murder of 15-year-old Lawrence "Larry" King by classmate Brandon McInerney on Feb. 12, 2008 grabbed national headlines. The film explores how the tragedy affected the students, teachers and the community. The tragedy brings up a number of current issues, including gender identity, LGBT rights and Prop 21, the California law to prevent gang violence. The film also asks what could be done to help troubled students and to prevent future tragedies.
Larry King was in the middle-school computer lab at E.O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard, a California beach town northwest of Los Angeles. Eighth-grade students were in the lab do an assignment on the topic of tolerance. King was shot twice in the back of the head at point-blank range by classmate Brandon McInerney. King died two days later, on Valentines Day.
Larry King was multiracial and was openly exploring his gender identity. He had started to appear more female, wearing makeup and heeled boots to school. He had been having difficulties and was transferred to a shelter for troubled kids.
Brandon McInerney was a straight Caucasian who had a girlfriend and an increasing interest in white supremacist ideology. Brandon was exposed to drug abuse and violence at home, so he also had a difficult background.
The films shows students as they describe a schoolyard Valentine’s Day game in which they professed their romantic feelings for a classmate. Larry apparently had feelings for Brandon and asked him to be his Valentine in front of Brandon’s basketball buddies. The shooting occurred on the day after Larry embarrassed Brandon.
Brandon, 14, was subsequently tried as an adult and was sentenced to 21 years in prison. At the time the film was made they said that Brandon was facing life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The complexities of the case are presented in the varying viewpoints of interviewees, including students Marina and Mariah, who witnessed the murder; Brandon’s mother, brothers and girlfriend; defense attorneys Robyn Bramson and Scott Wippert; prosecutor Maeve Fox; Oxnard homicide detective Jeff Kay; teachers who knew both Larry and Brandon; and jurors from Brandon’s trial, some of whom thought that he should not have been tried as an adult without a chance for rehabilitation.
"Valentine Road" was directed and produced by Marta Cunningham; produced by Sasha Alpert & Eddie Schmidt; director of photography, Arlene Nelson; editor, Tchavdar Georgiev; consulting editor, Yana Gorskaya; music supervisors, Dave Stone & Justin Gage; associate producer, Kevin McSeveney; executive producers, Jonathan Murray & Gil Goldschein.
For additional information, see the Facebook/HBO Documentary Films page.