LOS ANGELES — The difference in weight between Johannes Mehserle's loaded gun and plastic Taser was the last piece of evidence a jury heard Tuesday as this racially charged murder trial neared its end.
Deputy district attorney David Stein displayed the two weapons to the jury and had his inspector explain the difference in weight. The loaded gun weighed 780 grams, or 1.7 pounds, more than the Taser.
The jury will have a day off today as Stein and defense attorney Michael Rains argue over jury instructions and a defense motion to dismiss the case based on a lack of evidence. The jury will return Thursday for closing arguments and could begin deliberating the case Thursday afternoon or Friday.
Stein on Tuesday also called four BART police officers who spoke with Mehserle in the minutes, hours and days after he shot Oscar Grant III in the back as the 22-year-old Hayward man lay unarmed and facedown on the Fruitvale BART station platform in Oakland.
Mehserle said last week during testimony he had made a mistake in shooting Grant by confusing his gun for his Taser. Mehserle said he wanted to use a Taser on Grant because he believed Grant was resisting arrest and reaching for a gun in his pocket.
Grant did not have a gun.
Stein asked three BART police officers who talked with Mehserle immediately after the shooting if the then-26-year-old officer ever mentioned he made a mistake. All three said no.
Stein also asked
Foreman, who was called by Mehserle for support after the shooting and who drove Mehserle home and days later to his attorney's office in Sacramento, said Mehserle never mentioned the shooting was an accident.
"All of a sudden, he broke down and started crying," Foreman said, describing an exchange the two had during a trip back from Sacramento about a week after the shooting. "He said, 'I thought he had a gun. I thought he had a gun.' "
Foreman said Mehserle made the same statement the night of the shooting.
Though all four of the officers said Mehserle did not tell them he made a mistake, under questioning from Rains they all said their colleague appeared "shocked," "scared," and "emotionally upset" after the shooting.
Rains ended his case with testimony from a university professor, who discussed the mental aptitude of humans during stressful situations and with testimony from an Alameda County coroner who talked about the trajectory of the bullet that killed Grant.
The coroner's testimony led to a break in court after his detailed explanations of Grant's wounds and cause of death sent Grant's mother, Wanda Johnson, into loud sobs.
Several hours later outside court, Johnson was rushed to a hospital after she gave a news conference and then could no longer walk. Videos of her show that she stopped walking, sat down and then complained of pain as she sat on a bench.
Cephus Johnson, Grant's uncle and Wanda Johnson's brother, said later in the day that Johnson was mentally and physically exhausted but that she was fine.
In the courtroom, Rains has attempted, through 11 witnesses including Mehserle, to convince a jury that Grant's shooting was a mistake based, in part, on BART's failure to train his client on the proper use of a Taser.
Rains followed up Mehserle's emotional testimony last week with a police use-of-force and Taser expert who testified that Mehserle had the right to use a Taser on Grant and that the former officer's lack of Taser training probably contributed to the shooting.
Another defense expert, William Lewinski, gave the jury a brief overview Tuesday of how the human mind works during stressful situations. Lewinski, a retired Minnesota State University professor, studies police reactions to situations and attempts to come up with theories about why police officers react as they do.
Lewinski testified it is possible for police officers to get tunnel vision during stressful situations and block out sound and items in their peripheral vision.
Stein and Rains will argue over jury instructions today, and Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert Perry will decide if the jury should consider murder and all of its lesser included crimes, such as manslaughter, as possible verdicts.
Rains has argued that the jury should only be able to decide second-degree murder or acquittal.