BART shooting trial to be held in LA

November 19, 2009 6:40:59 PM PST
The murder trial of former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle will be moved from Oakland to Los Angeles.

The judge's decision is exactly the outcome Oscar Grant's family and his supporters wanted. They believe Mesherle is more likely to get a fair trial in a diverse city like Los Angeles verses San Diego, the other city that was being considered.

"The sense is at least in LA county the case is presented to a diverse jury you have more of a likelihood of getting a verdict that's consistent with the facts," Grant family lawyer John Burris said.

Superior Court Judge Morris Jacobson said the factors he took into consideration in deciding between Los Angeles or San Diego included pretrial publicity, cost, the hardship traveling would cause for witnesses and others involved in the case and the demographic makeup of the two cities.

Mehserle is accused of putting a bullet in the back of Grant, who was on the ground and unarmed in the early hours of New Year's Day. Mehserle's attorneys insist he did not intend to fire his pistol.

The shooting sparked riots in Oakland; Meshere's defense said the same thing could happen in Los Angeles, where there were riots following the Rodney King verdict.

Mehserle's attorney also argued San Diego was a better venue because a trial in Los Angeles could take six months to one year before it starts. Mesherle resigned from the force after the shooting and his lawyer says he has had a difficult time finding work and that waiting a year for a trail would be a financial hardship.

Grant's family and local protest organizers say they will be in Los Angeles every day.

"Not only do I want justice for Oscar, but I want justice for the other young men who face the same situation that my son faced; I want some education to be done through the police force so that they don't continue to shoot first and ask questions later," Grant's mother Wanda Johnson said.

Alameda County prosecutors argued there is a better chance of having more African Americans sit on a jury in Los Angeles, a county that looks more like Alameda County in terms of demographics, than San Diego.


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