Freddie Gray Trial: Mistrial Denied after State Fails to Disclose Evidence (Update – Prosecution rests)
UPDATED: State rests, Judge declines to dismiss charges, Defense’s turn tomorrow
UPDATE (2:17pm): The prosecution has rested its case, Judge Williams denied a defense request to dismiss the charges, and the court has recessed for the day. The defense will begin presenting its case to the jury tomorrow. None of today’s testimony for the State was particularly notable.
The legal arguments remain clear, and the State’s case about weak as their refusal to release evidence to the public had suggested.
As reported by the Baltimore Sun the State’s position is:
Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Michael Schatzow said Porter showed a “callous indifference for life” when he deviated from department policies. Defense attorneys have said other police officers routinely break such policies, but Schatzow said those officers should not be considered “reasonable.”
I’ve noted frequently in covering the Freddie Gray maelstrom that I’d yet to see any evidence that any of the officers had committed an actual act that could be the basis for the most serious of the charges brought agains them–including, in the case of van driver Officer Goodson, second-degree murder. And now it seems we know why: the State hasn’t any.
Also as reported by the Baltimore Sun, the defense position is:
Gary Proctor, one of Porter’s defense attorneys, said prosecutors had not proved that Porter’s failure to seatbelt or seek immediate medical attention for Gray rose to a “gross, wanton, deliberate” act necessary to prove involuntary manslaughter.
I look forward to the defense’s presentation of its case beginning tomorrow.
Judge Williams denied a mistrial yesterday in the “Freddie Gray” trial of Officer William Porter, despite the defense exposing that the State had failed to disclose evidence in its possession that Gray had a pre-existing back injury.
In addition, two of the State’s experts apparently disagree on whether it was possible that Freddie Gray managed to win a Darwin Award by causing his own ultimately fatal neck injury.
On the issue of the withheld exculpatory evidence, the defense informed Judge Williams that they had become aware that Gray had previously made statements to a Baltimore police detective about having a pre-existing back injury, and this information had been passed on to the State’s Attorneys office, as reported by WBAL television news:
The Washington Post reports on how prosecutors explained away their failure to disclose this exculpatory evidence:
Prosecutors said in court that an assistant state’s attorney had received the information previously but that the attorney did not share the information with colleagues working on the Gray case.
Earlier in the day there appeared to be a substantive disagreement between two of the State’s experts on whether or not Gray could have caused his own injury.
Medical Examiner Carol Allan testified that she believed Gray suffered his injury when he attempted to stand up in the moving van, despite being manacled at the ankles and wrists, and almost inevitably fell when unable to keep his balance. Again from the Washington Post:
Gray, according to Allan, likely stood up in the van after he had been shackled, handcuffed and placed on his stomach in a compartment in the back. He then hit his head because of a dramatic acceleration or deceleration of the vehicle, she said, and was paralyzed from the neck or shoulders down while his ability to breathe slipped away.
The state’s next expert witness, neurosurgeon Dr. Morris Marc Soriano, however, denied there was any possibility that Gray had injured himself. As reported in print on WBAL’s web site:
“Did Freddie Gray injure himself?” Schatzow asked.
“He could not have. It is not possible,” Soriano said.
And in WBAL’s television reportage:
Dr. Soriano also testified that Gray may not have died if he’d received more prompt medical care. Of course, that presumes that the 2-years-on-the-job Officer Porter knew or reasonably should have known that Gray, who has a reputation for faking injuries, had suffered a life-threatening spinal injury.
Keep your eyes here late afternoon for updated coverage of today’s trial events.
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