Mehserle to stand trial for Grant murder

June 4, 2009 5:58:05 PM PDT
An Alameda County judge ruled Thursday that Johannes Mehserle, the former BART officer who shot and killed Oscar Grant on New Year's Day at the Fruitvale BART station, will stand trial for murder.

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Mehserle will be the first California police officer in at least 15 years to stand trial for murder for shooting someone in the line of duty.

The ruling brought tears and a sense of vindication to Grant's family and friends.

"Even if Mehserle goes to jail, his family's going to be hurt just like my family," Grant's mother, Wanda Johnson said. "They will have a loss, just like I will have a loss. But their loss they'll be able to go see. My loss, I have to go to the gravesite and look at my son's headstone."

While Mehserle's family has been in court everyday they have remained silent. But his father, Thursday let his feelings be known as he walked past reporters inside the courtroom, saying, "There's no justice in Oakland. They only want to see what they want to see, what they want to see. This hearing is a sham. S-H-A-M. Sham."

What prompted that reaction was Judge C. Don Clay's abrupt call to end to the seven days of testimony Thursday afternoon. An expert video analyst on the stand for the defense was reviewing amateur video frame by frame. The judge said he had heard enough.

His ruling does not determine guilt or innocence, but the judge said he did not believe Mehserle's argument that the shooting was an accident, saying, "There is no doubt in my mind that Mr. Mehserle intended to shoot Oscar Grant with a gun, not a Taser."

"This case will, as I have said right from the get-go will come down to what do the jurors bring to the jury room. What is their state of mind; because you can look at the tapes in this case and you really can come to any conclusion that you want to and that depends on your bent," legal analyst Michael Cardoza said.

Mehserle remains out on bail. His lawyers are expected to seek a change of venue due to the publicity surrounding the case. Wherever the case takes place, legal analysts expect Mehserle to take the stand in his own defense.

Mehserle will next be in court on June 18, 2009 to enter a plea for the murder charges. He is expected to plead not guilty.

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