The case against former BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle on charges that he murdered unarmed passenger Oscar Grant III at the Fruitvale station in Oakland on Jan. 1, 2009, moves to Los Angeles today for what is expected to be a routine pretrial hearing.
Attorneys in the case say they expect that Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Robert Perry will schedule court dates for future hearings on pretrial motions and may also discuss a possible starting date for Mehserle’s trial.
Court officials previously have said that Mehserle’s trial may not start until the end of this year but it’s also possible that it could start this summer if a courtroom is available.
Mehserle, 27, is charged with murder for the shooting death of Grant, a 22-year-old Hayward man, on the platform of the Fruitvale station shortly after 2 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2009.
Mehserle and other officers were responding to reports that there was a fight on a train.
On Oct. 16, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Morris Jacobson ruled that Mehserle’s trial should be moved out of the county because the case has received a large amount of publicity and created “a high degree of political turmoil” and other factors that could endanger Mehserle’s ability to get a fair trial.
On Nov. 19, Jacobson selected Los Angeles County as the new venue for the case.
California Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald George then selected Perry, a veteran judge who has handled numerous high-profile cases, to preside over Mehserle’s trial.
Mehserle’s lawyer, Michael Rains, has admitted that Mehserle shot and killed Grant but claims that the shooting was accidental because Mehserle meant to use his Taser stun gun on Grant but fired his gun by mistake.
Mehserle is free on $3 million bail.