From The Los Angeles Times
More than 100 protesters demanding justice for a Bay Area man shot to death by a BART police officer on New Year’s Day last year converged on a downtown Los Angeles courthouse today for the first proceedings since the racially charged case was moved here from Alameda County.
Johannes Mehserle, who resigned from the Bay Area Rapid Transit police force a week after the shooting he admits to but contends was unintentional, will stand trial for murder before Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Robert J. Perry in May, the judge said at his pretrial hearing.
Perry prolonged a gag order issued by an Alameda County judge prohibiting either side in the case from discussing it in public. He also rejected a request from Bay Area broadcasters to allow televised coverage of the trial in light of the intense public interest in the shooting death that provoked three days of rioting that damaged dozens of Oakland businesses.
Perry said his experience of high-profile trials is that allowing cameras in the courtroom “is detrimental to the search for truth and justice.” The judge said he would prohibit cellphones, texting, the use of laptop computers and all other means of recording or transmitting the proceedings when the trial begins in mid-May.
Mehserle, 28, has received death threats, as have his family and attorneys, posing a risk to the safety of witnesses who might testify on his behalf, Perry said in denying broadcast coverage of the proceedings for the benefit of Bay Area residents unable to travel to Los Angeles for the trial.