The jury in the Johannes Mehserle trial started deliberations all over today with an alternate juror in place after one juror called in sick and another left for vacation. But there's yet, another delay -- they'll only be deliberating until 11:45 a.m. because of another juror's previous engagement.
On Wednesday morning, as the jury began deliberating the case from scratch, news came they would only be in deliberations for a half day because one of them has a doctor's appointment.
The juror who called in sick Tuesday rejoined the panel Wednesday. The judge knew about one juror's pre-planned vacation and had already planned to seat an alternate to fill that spot. The sick call on Tuesday was just one more delay.
With the vacationing juror replaced, it means only two alternate jurors remain. An alternate was called in a few weeks after the trial started to replace a juror who had been dozing off during the case.
Legal analyst Steven Clark says the shrinking pool of alternates means an even greater chance of delayed justice.
"The jury deliberation process is getting off to a rocky start, certainly," Clark said, "and it becomes a very precarious problem because once you start losing alternates and you run out of alternates, you could run into the situation where the court would have to declare a mistrial."
The alternate juror will be randomly picked from a pool that includes two Asian woman and a Latina.
Former BART officer Mehserle is charged with killing Oscar Grant III on New Year's Eve 2009 at the Fruitvale BART station. He doesn't deny shooting Grant, but he says he mean to use his Taser to shoot Grant, not his handgun.
Jurors have three options for a conviction:
- Second-degree murder would mean they believe Mehserle meant to kill Grant
- Voluntary manslaughter would mean they believe the killing was an unreasonable reaction to a perceived threat
- Involuntary manslaughter would mean they believe Mehserle acted with criminal negligence
Whatever the verdict, officials in Oakland are prepared for reaction from the public. Police and community leaders have been spreading the word to keep the peace on the streets.