On Thursday, 14-year-old Brandon McInerney pleaded not guilty in the murder of 15-year-old Lawrence King. He entered his plea in a Ventura County Superior Court where his is being tried as an adult.

King was a 15-year-old boy attending Oxnard, California's E.O. Green Junior High School. He told friends and family he was gay, often wore makeup, once asked for a sex change operation, and often hit on boys. On February 12th, after asking McInerney to be his Valentine, he was shot twice in the head during his 8th grade English class. He survived the night, but died on Valentine's Day after being pronounced brain-dead.

“This is essentially a death sentence for Brandon McInerney,” defense attorney William “Willy” Quest told the Ventura County Star.

Quest is seeking to reduce the charges against his client to manslaughter. McInerney would face a sentence of six to 21 years if convicted of manslaughter. The current charges of murder and hate crime require a minimum of 51 years to a maximum of life with no time off for good behavior.

“That is the only way Brandon does not die in prison,” Quest said on reducing the charge to manslaughter.

“If we thought it was manslaughter, we would have filed it as manslaughter,” said Chief Assistant District Attorney James Ellison. “We believe the crime is charged appropriately.”