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Mehserle jury will resume deliberations Tuesday

July 5, 2010 8:03:38 PM PDT
Tuesday morning, a Los Angeles jury will resume deliberating the fate of former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle, charged with murder in the shooting death of unarmed passenger Oscar Grant.

As they return from the long holiday weekend, the seven women and five men of the jury will get to the heart of their deliberations.

"The first big question the jury has to decide is, 'Do they believe that Mehserle thought he was firing a Taser or a gun?'" says ABC7 legal analyst Dean Johnson.

Johnson thinks the former BART officer's believability will likely be the first issue on the jurors' agenda as they try to decide if Mehserle's shooting of Grant makes him guilty of second-degree murder, manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, or nothing at all.

"If they find that he believed he was firing a Taser, the worst that they can do is convict him of involuntary manslaughter, and they could acquit him," says Johnson.

Mehserle himself took the stand, a rare and risky move for a defendant in a murder case.

"I think the risk of putting Mehserle on the stand paid off," says Johnson. "Some of his testimony would have justified a second-degree murder conviction on the theory of what we call 'implied malice,' but the judge's instructions, for all intents and purposes, took implied malice out of the equation."

Implied malice is when someone acts with a conscious disregard for human life.

Once jurors resume their deliberations, Johnson believes the longer they go, the greater chance of a conviction.

"Quick verdicts in homicide cases almost always favor the defense," he says. "We all remember the O.J. Simpson verdict which took only a matter of hours."

If the jury does not reach a verdict by Tuesday evening, a juror with a previously scheduled vacation will be excused and an alternate will take his place. If that happens, the jury must start deliberating all over again.


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