Jury begins deliberations in Mehserle trial

Johannes Mehserle and Oscar Grant
July 2, 2010 6:41:23 PM PDT
The jury in the Johannes Mesherle trial is now deciding the fate of former BART officer Johannes Mehserle who shot Oscar Grant to death on New Year's Day 2009.

The jury began deliberation Friday afternoon shortly after 1:30 p.m. and ended for the day just before 4 p.m. Most legal analysts believe they probably spent most of the day choosing a foreman.

The first order of business for the 12 jurors, a television set up in their deliberation room so they can again watch those videos that captured Mehserle shooting Grant in the back as he lay face down on the Fruitvale station platform.

Outside the courthouse, Grant's mother was too fragile to speak to reporters. Family members say the waiting will be like reliving the whole tragedy.

"What I will be doing I'm sure wlll be restless nights, constant prayer and trusting that the process of justice works," said Grant's uncle, Cephus Johnson.

Defense attorney Michael Rains finished his closing arguments, calling the shooting "a tragic, tragic mistake." He gave 18 reasons why Mehserle should be acquitted, including video taken by a BART passenger. Seconds after the fatal shot it shows Mehserle raising his hands to his head, proof, the defense says, it was an accident and that the officer meant to use his Taser, not his gun.

In his final statement to the jury, Rains said there is a sound that needs to be heard with their verdict. "A reverberating sound. A resonating sound. A resounding sound. Not guilty. Not guilty. Not guilty."

But prosecutor David Stein said those videos tell a different story -- the story of an unjustifiable shooting, and the verdict should be second-degree murder. He pulled out a box and showed a two-foot tall statue of Lady Justice, a symbol, he says, that the law is there to protect everyone.

Stein said, "Don't convict the defendant because of sympathy or favor. Convict him because the evidence in this case has proven his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. That is why you must convict him."

But the mothers of some of Grant's friends who were on the platform don't believe that will be the outcome.

"The jury was lied to basically, they did not know Mehserle's background," said Michael Greier's mother, Tracie Cooper.

"I don't know if they even understand what our kids went through," said Jontu Polo's mother, Zeporia Smith.

Mehserle sat emotionless and expressionless throughout the closing arguments, as he has through most of the trial.

The jury will take a break for the holiday weekend and return to Los Angeles to pick up their deliberations Tuesday at 8:30 a.m.


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