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D.A.: Facts in BART Shooting Case Justify Murder Charges Against Former Officer
Created by Brian Shields on 1/14/2009 2:55:34 PM

OAKLAND (KRON) -- Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff says he doesn't see any mitigating circumstances in the former BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle's shooting of an unarmed passenger at the Fruitvale Station.

Orloff made the remarks in a news conference annoucing the murder charges against Mehserle.

"Murder charges were filed because the evidence indicates an unlawful killing done by an intentional act and there's nothing that would mitigate that lower than a murder," Orloff told reporters. 

Orloff says the it will be up to the judge in the trial to determine if the jury will consider first or second degree murder charges or manslaughter.  A first degree murder conviction could bring a sentence of 50 years to life while second degree would keep Mehserle in prison for 40-years to life.

The prosecutor says the intense public interest meant more resources were put into the investigation.  He says investigators interviewed four significant new witnesses this week.  He says another videotape confiscated by BART was also very useful in bringing the charges.

"I understand that there's a great deal of emotion in the community and I understand that this situation raises a lot of signficant social issues in our community," Orloff said.  "I would hope that people would have the respect for the system in which I've worked for 39 years and would watch and make their judgments based on how the system functions and let the criminal justice system play this out.   In terms of those who want to protest on the broader civil issues, I think peaceful protest is a very healthy thing."

Mehserle is expected to be arraigned Thursday in Alameda County court.  Authorities are keeping details of his transfer back secret because of security concerns.

Stay tuned to KRON 4 for continuing coverage of the BART shooting investigation and protests.

(Copyright 2009, KRON 4, All rights reserved.)



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