Mehserle Case Wraps Up, Jury to Begin Deliberations Friday

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The judge in the murder trial of former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle is ready to give the jurors their instructions.

    The defense wrapped up closing arguments Friday morning and the prosecution presented their rebuttal.

    Defense attorney Michael Rains wrapped up his closing arguments around 9:30 a.m. Friday, leaving jurors with a list of 18 reasons why his client is not guilty.

    "You are his shot at justice," Rains told the jury. "The evidence in this case requires Johannes Mehserle's shot at justice be heard with a sound, a reverberating sound, a resonating sound, a resounding sound: not guilty, not guilty, not guilty."

    Rains and Mehserle hugged after the jury left and it looked as if Rains was going to cry, NBC Bay Area reporter Jodi Hernandez said.

    The attorneys began presenting their closing arguments Thursday.

    Mehserle's lawyer, Michael Rains, has admitted Mehserle shot and killed 22-year-old Oscar Grant III at the Fruitvale station in Oakland shortly after 2 a.m. Jan. 1, 2009, after he and other officers responded to a report that there was a fight on a train.

    But Rains claims the shooting was an accident and Mehserle, 28, who is free on $3 million bail, meant to use his Taser stun gun on Grant.

    Los Angeles County Superior Court spokesman Allan Parachini said  prosecutor David Stein presented the first part of his closing argument Thursday morning, and Rains presented his argument Thursday afternoon.

    Judge Robert Perry will then give the jury legal instructions, which are expected to be lengthy. Jurors are expected to begin deliberating before the end of the day. Parachini said that once the jury gets the case it will deliberate from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. five days a week except for next Monday, which is a  court holiday.

    Jurors will have the option of convicting Mehserle of second-degree murder or the lesser charges of voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter. Jurors will also have the option  of finding Mehserle not guilty of all charges.

    Legal analyst Steven Clark says there is a good possibility of a hung jury.

    He says the pressure is now on both the prosecution and the defense to make an impression that will last through the weekend.

    "This involves the jurors' gut emotion as to whether they're going to send an officer to jail.  that's a huge issue for this jury." Clark said "They're also going to look at these video tapes and see Oscar Grant did not deserve to die, so those two things are going to be resonating in that jury room as the jury decides how they're going to handle this evidence. Each side knows that it's their last chance to make an emotional pitch to this jury so that that's the last thing they think about when they go home for this holiday weekend."

    If the jury does deadlock, it's up to the prosecutors to decide whether to try Mehserle again. If they do, a new jury and judge will be chosen.

    Bay City News contributed to this report.