Mehserle hearing delay prompts protest

March 23, 2009 5:16:00 PM PDT
The Oakland police shooting deaths had a ripple effect in yet another case. An Alameda County judge postponed a preliminary hearing for a former BART police officer in the New Year's Day killing of Oscar Grant. Johannes Mehserle is accused of shooting Grant in the back.

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It was supposed to be an important hearing at the Alameda County Courthouse as the District Attorney was supposed to present his evidence to support his case.

The hearing was to decide whether or not Johannes Mehserle would stand trial for murder.

Demonstrators gathered outside the Alameda County Courthouse, demanding justice for Oscar Grant.

"He shot him in the back. There's no defense for murder. Everyone sees it, everybody knows it. This is a joke," said Oscar Grant's uncle Daryl Johnson.

The preliminary hearing was expected to last more than a week. A number of witnesses had been subpoenaed.

But defendant Johannes Mehserle's lawyer asked the judge to continue the hearing because of the tragic deaths of the Oakland police officers.

Attorney Michael Rains spoke to ABC7 after the hearing.

"Given what has happened over the weekend, I just thought that mounting a vigorous and aggressive defense for Mr. Mehserle now, it's just not the right time or the right place," said Rains.

Rains also represents the Oakland Police Department and the Officers Union.

He says he'll be involved in the legal cases arising from the weekend shooting deaths, and that could affect his time on the Mehserle case.

Raines said tensions were high and the officers need time to heal.

"They don't need to be devoting their time dealing with riots and demonstrations and protests over the Mehserle case," said Rains.

The family of Oscar Grant was clearly angry at the delay.

Wanda Johnson is his mother.

"I cry every night for my son. Nobody knows how I feel for him. You know, to just say another situation occurred and so I didn't get prepared. We need to put it off, I think it's unfair," said Johnson.

Judge Clay continued the preliminary hearing for May 18th. Judge Clay was the judge on duty this weekend, and he is the one the signed all of the search warrants.

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