Phil Matier & Andrew Ross
The upcoming murder trial of ex-BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle promises to be quite a high-wire act for Alameda County’s new district attorney, Nancy O’Malley.
O’Malley’s crew began setting up shop this week in an L.A. hotel in advance of jury selection, which is scheduled to begin June 1.
Having inherited the politically explosive case from her former boss, ex-D.A. Tom Orloff, O’Malley is not shying away. In fact, she plans to be on hand in Los Angeles for the opening statements.
Coming up short on a murder verdict against Mehserle could mean enduring the wrath of many in the African American community who believe the white Mehserle intentionally shot Oscar Grant, who was black.
On the other hand, many police officers – on whom O’Malley depends to do her job – think the case was overcharged. They’d be perfectly happy not to see Mehserle convicted of murder.
“It’s a very difficult situation, all the way around,” O’Malley said.
Or as one district attorney’s insider told us bluntly: “Either way, she loses.”
In any event, she’s not leaving much to chance. O’Malley has assembled a prosecution team of two attorneys, two investigators, two support staffers, a financial analyst and eight others whose services will be required during the trial in Southern California, where the case was moved because of the charged climate in the East Bay.
The D.A. has set aside $100,000 to help cover their hotel costs and other expenses – but with the trial expected to last into July, you can bet costs will rocket much higher.