The English teacher of a gay student was shot by a classmate at E.O. Green junior high school testified Wednesday that she told him to stop wearing eyeliner and mascara, but that he refused and the classroom disruption escalated.
Jill Ekman told jurors that 15-year-old Larry King wore even more makeup after she told him to stop drawing attention to himself, the Ventura County Star reported.
She said King told her the school's assistant vice-principal, Joy Epstein, said he could. She said she went and spoke to Epstein, and was told King had constitutional rights to do so. Later, an email message was issued telling teachers that King's attire was allowed and that they should try to teach students tolerance. King also wore girls' boots to school and told people he was gay.
Ekman said she incorporated the message of tolerance into her lessons, but that the problem continued. She said boys complained to her that King was chasing them into the bathroom.
"I explained to him that what he was doing was inappropriate and he laughed and said that he could go into the boys' bathroom and he liked to see them squirm," she said.
Ekman said she went to Epstein to complain about King's behavior again, but the administrator told her there was nothing that could be done. Four days later, King was shot in the head in the computer classroom at E.O Green School in Oxnard. Ekman said that there were rumors at the school that King was flirting with the shooter, Brandon McInerney, and had asked McInerney to be his valentine.
Her testimony came after the half-brother of McInerney, who's on trial for the 2008 shooting death, told the jury that the defendant was sexually abused. James Bing testified the abuse at the hand of a cousin, coupled with physical abuse by their father, scarred McInerney. Bing cried during his testimony and twice mouthed "I love you" to McInerney.
McInerney, who was 14 at the time of the shooting, is being tried as an adult on first-degree murder and hate crime charges. McInerney is now 17.
The trial was moved to Los Angeles County because of extensive media coverage in Ventura County.
© 2011 The Associated Press.