LOS ANGELES (AP) Closing arguments were heard on Thursday in the trial of former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle, who is accused of murdering Oscar Grant on New Year’s Day 2009.
Alameda County Deputy District Attorney David Stein started the proceedings with an impassioned two-hour closing argument, and said the actions of the defendant don’t match up with his testimony that he mistakenly pulled his handgun instead of his Taser stun gun.
“The defendant’s desire to punish, to belittle, and to mistreat Oscar Grant not only resulted in chaos, distrust and disorder, it resulted in the death of an innocent person,” Stein said. “For that he must be held liable.”
Stein also said Mehserle let his emotions get the better of him when he arrived on the Fruitvale BART platform and saw the raucous crowd.
“He lost all control,” Stein told the jury. “That’s why you are here.”
Defense attorney Michael Rains began his closing argument before the lunch break, saying jurors shouldn’t convict Mehserle as payback for a shooting that the lawyer called a tragic accident.
“It’s not a forum to address or redress social injustice,” Rains told jurors. “That’s not your duty.”
Rains has finished closing arguments for the day and will continue on Friday, with the prosecution also having a chance to rebut.
Then, the case will be handed to the jury, who will deliberate on whether Mehserle should be found guilty of second-degree murder or the lesser offenses of voluntary or unvoluntary manslaughter.