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Jury reaches verdict in BART shooting case

July 8, 2010 |  3:25 pm

A jury has reached a verdict in the case involving a Bay Area Rapid Transit officer who shot a passenger to death in Oakland, and it is scheduled to be read at 4 p.m.

In the racially charged case, the jury has decided whether Johannes Mehserle, who is white, intentionally fired his weapon at Oscar J. Grant III, an unarmed black man who was lying face-down on a train station platform.

Prosecutors played videos for jurors taken by witnesses that showed Mehserle standing over Grant, aiming his handgun and firing a single round into Grant's back. But the defense contended that the shooting was a tragic accident in which Mehserle mistakenly drew his handgun instead of an electric Taser gun on his belt.

Legal experts say prosecutors faced a high legal hurdle in persuading jurors to convict an officer of murder in an on-duty police shooting.

To obtain a murder conviction, prosecutors had to prove that Mehserle intended to kill Grant or acted with a conscious disregard for life. Second-degree murder carries a sentence of 15 years to life in prison.

--Sam Allen