General Crime

* Oakland Bart Police Officer Mehserle Pleads Not Guilty To Murder Of Oscar Grant

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Former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle, who shot and killed unarmed BART passenger Oscar Grant III on the platform of the Fruitvale station on New Year’s Day, pleaded not guilty to a murder charge this morning.At a brief hearing in Alameda County Superior Court, Judge Morris Jacobson set an Oct. 13 trial date for Mehserle, 27, who resigned a week after the shooting.Jacobson also scheduled a hearing for July 24 on a motion that Mehserle’s lawyer, Michael Rains, plans to file challenging a ruling by Judge C. Don Clay two weeks ago that there’s enough evidence to have Mehserle stand trial on murder charges for the death of Grant, a 22-year-old Hayward man who worked as a butcher at Farmer Joe’s grocery store in Oakland and was the father of a young girl.In addition, Jacobson set a hearing for Sept. 11 on a motion asking that Mehserle’s trial be moved away from Alameda County because he doesn’t think Mehserle can get a fair trial in the county.The shooting happened shortly after 2 a.m. on New Year’s Day when Mehserle and other officers responded to the Fruitvale station in Oakland after receiving reports of a fight on a train.During Mehserle’s preliminary hearing, Rains said it was Mehserle who shot and killed Grant but that the shooting was accidental because
Mehserle had meant to fire his Taser, not his gun. He also alleged that Grant was resisting arrest.Rains said Mehserle therefore should only stand trial on manslaughter charges, not murder charges.However, at the end of the preliminary hearing Clay said, “There is no doubt in my mind that Mr. Mehserle intended to shoot Oscar Grant with a gun, not a Taser.”At today’s hearing, Jacobson asked Rains to read a recent newspaper article in which Rains was quoted as saying he doesn’t think Mehserle can get a fair trial because he thinks the county’s judicial system has a bias against Mehserle. Jacobson asked Rains if he was quoted accurately in the article and the defense lawyer said he was.Jacobson then reminded Rains and prosecutor David Stein that there is a gag order barring attorneys from talking about the evidence in the case. “As we approach the trial, I’m going to caution both sides to mind yourselves when you speak to the press,” Jacobson said, warning that he will impose sanctions against anyone who violates the gag order.Rains said Wednesday that he feels free to discuss possible motions in the case because he believes that the gag order only applies to evidence in the case, not motions.After today’s hearing, Grant’s uncle, Cephus Johnson, said he thinks Mehserle can get a fair trial in Alameda County because it has a diverse mix of people. Johnson said, “Alameda County doesn’t just consist of Oakland. There’s no reason why a good jury can’t be selected.”

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  • The judges in this case are sick jokes. First Clay opens his big mouth and says he believes the defendant is guilty without a trial, and now Jacobson warns the attorneys to keep quiet about the case, when Clay, has already shot his mouth off. I hope a change of venue comes soon. Where are Mehserle’s constitutional rights in this case? And where are the Feds to help ensure this happens?

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