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Freddie Gray Trial VERDICT: Officer Edward Nero NOT GUILTY!

Freddie Gray Trial VERDICT: Officer Edward Nero NOT GUILTY!

Trial Judge Barry Williams acquitted Baltimore Police Officer Edward Nero of all charges

[UPDATES THROUGHOUT POST]

Today Judge Barry Williams returned a verdict of not guilty in the “Freddie Gray” trial of Baltimore police officer Edward Nero, reports Justin Felton of the Baltimore Sun.

Nero had been charged with second degree assault, reckless endangerment, and two counts of misconduct in office for his participation in the arrest and transport of Freddie Gray.

Gray had been arrested as part of a crackdown on a high-crime are of the City of Baltimore.  He would suffer a severe spinal injury while being transported in a police van, and would die of his injuries a week later.  After Gray’s death Baltimore was wracked with riots, looting, and arson.

The state’s theory of the case, the rationale for the criminal prosecution, was two-fold. On the second degree assault charge, the legal rationale was that Nero failed to independently determine reasonable suspicion and probable cause for Gray’s arrest, instead relying on the judgment of his superior officer, Lieutenant Brian Rice, and his colleague, Officer Garrett Miller.  On the reckless endangerment charge, the legal rationale was that Nero failed in a legal duty to seat belt Gray.

It was Rice who initiated the pursuit and stop of Gray upon observing Gray flee police observation, and it was Miller who actually made the physical arrest and filed the criminal complaint against Gray.  Both Rice and Miller are also charged with crimes related to Gray’s arrest, and are to be tried later this year.

The police van was driven by Baltimore police officer Caesar Goodson.  Goodson has also been charged in this matter, and will be tried later this year.

An earlier “Freddie Gray” trial of police officer William Porter resulted in a hung jury. Porter is scheduled to be re-tried later this year.

*UPDATE 11:22AM by MC* People protesting outside the courthouse.

UPDATE [11:34AM]:

In announcing his verdict of not guilt trial Judge Barry Williams made clear that he found the defense theory of the case to be far more compelling than he did the state’s theory.

It is worth recalling in this context that the state bears the great burden of proving the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. A state can have a more compelling case than the defense and still fail to convict, if they fail to exceed reasonable doubt. A case in which the defense actually has the more compelling narrative means the prosecutors were never even close to obtaining a conviction.

Williams concluded that the state had failed to prove that Nero acted unreasonably. Unreasonable conduct is an explicit element for the reckless endangerment charge, and its absence ensured an acquittal on that charge.

Williams also concluded that only Officer Garrett Miller physically arrested Gray. The second degree assault charge against Nero was premised on the theory that his arrest of Gray was unlawful. The conclusion that Nero did not in fact arrest Gray at all ensured an acquittal on the second degree assault charge.

Williams also dismissed the state’s bizarre legal theory that Nero should be found guilty on the basis of criminal conspiracy, because of his cooperation with Miller and other officers in arresting and transporting Gray.

Williams also noted that this verdict, naturally, applies narrowly to Nero, and has no direct implications for the five other scheduled Freddie Gray trials.

It should be noted, however, that the nature of Nero’s trial does have implications for the scheduled trial of police officer Garrett Miller. Miller testified extensively in the Nero trail, after being compelled to do so following his being granted use immunity by state prosecutors. A consequence of that grant of immunity is that nothing he said on the witness stand can now be used against him in his own trial. That will effectively gut efforts to prosecute Miller.

*UPDATE 12:00PM by MC* Defense attorney Warren Brown provided a great summary of the case:

Here’s what he says:

“The problem is they tried to make a case out of whole cloth with regards to Miller and Nero right from the beginning. They were the face of this case – this Freddie Gray case – because they were the ones who were on video, they were the ones that the public got a whiff of early on and yet, their cases were the weakest cases for the state to present.

I think what happened was is the state’s attorney decided she was going to charge someone and worked back from there. I don’t think she got the evidence and worked up to the conclusion that these individuals should be charged. I think she decided that somebody had to be charged. Obviously, it had to be Nero and Miller because they were the first ones [on the scene], they are on camera, they are these white guys taking down this black guy, and I think that is where they went wrong – right from the beginning in charging Officer Miller and Nero, especially Officer Nero and MIller of these charges.”

[Featured picture source: Baltimore Sun]

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Comments

It’s encouraging to see that justice is still alive, despite the death of common sense.

WOW watching the news the Protesters demand that the Officers should be forced to have a jury trial so justice could be severed.

Shortly after the verdict there was an interview by WJZ-TV (CBS Baltimore) on the sidewalk with Billy Murphy, the attorney for the family of Freddie Gray. I expected some kind of Al Sharpton nonsense, but I was surprised at how responsible and sensible he was.

He basically said the judge made the right call, he commended the judge for not bowing to the immense public pressure for a guilty verdict, and he said that he has already met some people very upset over the verdict but that they shouldn’t be and that if someone wasn’t watching the trial the whole time they shouldn’t jump to conclusions.

Glad justice prevailed.
Do you see this leading to other defendants opting for a bench trial versus facing a Baltimore jury out for “social justice”?

    Char Char Binks in reply to phiremin. | May 23, 2016 at 11:37 am

    I do.

    mzk in reply to phiremin. | May 23, 2016 at 3:11 pm

    Do they have that choice? I’ve always felt that trial by jury should be solely the right of the defendant.

    BTW, as someone who has been on a Baltimore Jury, I wouldn’t sell the jury pool that short. The low ratio of non-criminals to criminals means that every decent Baltimorian, as well as judges and politicians, have to serve on a jury.

      Milhouse in reply to mzk. | May 23, 2016 at 6:14 pm

      Yes, in Maryland a defendant has an absolute right to choose between a jury trial and a bench trial. So long as the defendant’s decision is knowing and voluntary neither the prosecution nor the judge get a say in the matter.

I think the process was the punishment here.

legacyrepublican | May 23, 2016 at 11:20 am

Raspierre called it correctly. Not guilty. Well done Rags!

    Ragspierre in reply to legacyrepublican. | May 23, 2016 at 11:25 am

    Thanks, brother! Not really a tall order for anyone who can read a judge.

    Williams deserves some creds here for being a much better judge than some have depicted. He might well be biased, but he found on the law, and that ain’t no bad thing.

      Mac45 in reply to Ragspierre. | May 23, 2016 at 11:30 am

      Actually, the defense deserves the kudos here. By requesting a bench trial, they essentially boxed Williams into ruling on the law and the evidence, without being able to appeal to emotion, as would be the case in a jury trial. Judge Williams really had little choice in the matter.

        Ragspierre in reply to Mac45. | May 23, 2016 at 11:50 am

        Everybody did their jobs. And if you don’t think Williams could have gone a different direction, you don’t know the power of judges. Not that it would have withstood an appeal, but Williams did right by the law, and that’s all you can ask of a judge.

          Mac45 in reply to Ragspierre. | May 23, 2016 at 12:26 pm

          Of course, Williams could have ignored the law AND the evidence and found Nero guilty of something. However, judge’s decisions are subject to review. And no judge wants to take a chance on losing their public job by making a decision which is obviously not justifiable to the point of being scandalous.

          In this case, it was more than evident, at the termination of the prosecution’s presentation, that there was no evidence to sustain the charges. It would have been an easy matter to grant a directed motion of acquittal and such should have been done. However, Williams demanded that the defendant present a defense, even though it was clear that the prosecution had failed to prove its case. If there had been a jury, then Williams would have sent the case to the jury and acquiesced to their verdict, regardless of the lack of evidence presented by the prosecution. That he was the trier of fact, forced him to exercise his powers of judicial oversight responsibly.

          One should not be praised for performing their job properly. If you have to do that, then there is a serious systemic problem.

          Ragspierre in reply to Ragspierre. | May 23, 2016 at 12:39 pm

          In civil procedure, a judge can render a “judgment not withstanding” a jury verdict. I don’t know criminal procedure…especially in Maryland…well enough to know whether there’s a criminal law analog. I do believe a judge has the power to take a case away from the jury pre-verdict. They seldom do.

          I don’t think it was wrong for the judge to hear the entire case. In fact, I think it was just good jurisprudence. It leaves a clear RECORD, which…again…stands into the future.

          Gremlin1974 in reply to Ragspierre. | May 23, 2016 at 8:29 pm

          Yea, I figured it would be not guilty when the Judge announced before closing arguments that he expected to have a verdict by today. I think he had already made up his mind he just had to put it all in writing with the correct notations.

Quick! Board up the windows at the CVS!

Billy Murphy was sensible . Yes 40 % of 6.4 million will do that

    Ragspierre in reply to dmi60ex. | May 23, 2016 at 11:29 am

    But give him credit for what he said. He HAS the money, and he could easily have roused the rabble. He did not, and that…today…is credit-worthy. When people act responsibly, they deserve recognition. That is, if you want to foster that kind of conduct.

By making the call ,that custody transferred to the Van driver when Freddie was put in the van , may not bode well for Goodsen ; Miller and Rice’s case closely parallel Nero looks good for them .

Watch Mosby start crying for another judge on future cases .

Is there a written decision??

I have it on good authority that the riot police are already saddling up… more overtime dollars for the regional police force.

Ah come on Twang
We have to give the SJWs room to destroy

Common Sense | May 23, 2016 at 11:44 am

Justice!

The prosecution looks foolish and feeble!
They let conditions in Baltimore city determine the charges.

Question did the DA take best cases to trial first … If so they got problems

Poor Poor Marilyn. She gots to start rollin that boulder back up the hill . . .

Bench Trial hindsight lookin pretty good, too.

    Mr. Izz in reply to Redneck Law. | May 23, 2016 at 11:59 am

    I thought it was genius. The defense thought they couldn’t get an impartial jury and by forcing the judge to make a decision, it means he couldn’t go off the reservation for the prosecutors. No judge likes to be overturned on appeals so the pressure was put on him to make the right decision.

Saw this tweet on the Baltimore Sun site…

‘Courtroom for #NeroTrial was packed. One notable absence: Marilyn Mosby’

She probably could see where this was going and didn’t want to “get any on her.” 🙂

    Ragspierre in reply to Twanger. | May 23, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    She LOVES the microphones and cameras, but not when she has to answer the kinds of questions she’d be faced with today.

    Heh…!!!

      Gremlin1974 in reply to Ragspierre. | May 23, 2016 at 8:32 pm

      I still remember that awesome picture of her leaving the courtroom after the Porter hung jury, she was so obviously pissed. Can you imagine what her face would have looked like today.

    TX-rifraph in reply to Twanger. | May 23, 2016 at 12:08 pm

    If she did get any on her, the MSM will wash her clean. It is their job to protect her.

Will Mosby take head and drop the charges against the other officers? She can get the protest over today by doing so — or prolong the anger and protests?

I love the final quote from Warren Brown where he implied that Mosby prosecuted Nero and Miller in part because they were white. It would be hilarious of a Trump justice department investigated Mosby for racism and anti-police bias.

    Char Char Binks in reply to nebel. | May 23, 2016 at 12:51 pm

    To be fair, Mosby is also prosecuting Porter, White, and Goodson because Rice, Nero, and Miller are white.

      However, the charges against Nero and Miller the among the weakest because their involvement in grey’s transportation was extremely limited.

        Char Char Binks in reply to nebel. | May 24, 2016 at 10:59 am

        Their charges are the least-serious. ALL the charges against ALL the defendants tie for weakest.

I think…given the procedural cluster-fark around Miller…his re-trial becomes problematic.

The state may wish to reconsider…

    tarheelkate in reply to Ragspierre. | May 23, 2016 at 12:41 pm

    It’s Porter who is facing re-trial, isn’t it? But for months people have said that the Porter and Nero trials went first because they were the most likely for a conviction. With one hung jury and one across the board acquittal, Mosby should just give up.

      Ragspierre in reply to tarheelkate. | May 23, 2016 at 12:50 pm

      Yep. Porter. My names curse. Still…

      Gremlin1974 in reply to tarheelkate. | May 23, 2016 at 8:39 pm

      Nahh, Porter and Nero were 2 of he weakest cases, the judge set the order and schedule.

      With the way things are going their best chance of conviction will be on Goodson for not buckling Gray in.

      Mosby probably thinks she can get a conviction on Miller for the arrest and the “illegal” knife charges. Neither of which will hold up.

JackRussellTerrierist | May 23, 2016 at 12:25 pm

It’s disgusting that Nero had to choose a bench trial instead of a jury trial because the judge denied the motion for change of venue. The judge bent over backwards for the prosecution time after time. It’s nice that the defense forced the judge to suck it up by boxing him in with no way to go but out. Checkmate, your biased Honor.

Now, why hasn’t Mosby been interviewed? Wasn’t there one, single, solitary reporter who located her in advance of the announcement of this decision to get her reaction? Anybody? Buehler? Where’s she hiding? Why isn’t she talking? When can we get more BS righteous indignation in a response from this lying, race-hustling pol?

Oh, Marilyn, come out, come out, wherever you are!!

    Nero didn’t have to chooose a bench trial. Goodson chose a jury trial, and was nearly acquitted (if the reports that it was 11-1 for acquittal are correct). Another time it might easily be 12-0, but it’s unlikely ever to be 12-0 for conviction.

    And so far Edwards’s decision that a fair trials is possible in Baltimore is holding up.

Marilyn Mosby is a corrupt, incompetent, race-baiting hack who has no business holding a law license, let alone being a state’s attorney.

David Breznick | May 23, 2016 at 12:29 pm

Mosby might end up getting what Nifong got.

If I follow the Prosecutions logic, shouldn’t the Prosecutors) be charged with unlawful arrest.

Mosby should be disbarred.

Nero walks while Mosby burns!

Williams had two choices.

He could find Nero guilty. Make no mistake, looking at his actions throughout the case ( and his past ) he really really wanted to find him guilty.

But finding Nero guilty would be an incredibly stupid act. Not only because he would be reversed on appeal. No facts were in dispute. An appeal based on findings of law, where the prosecution has already admitted it is using a “novel theory”, along with the generic thinness of the case would get Nero bail pending appeal, and also an expedited appeal. So Nero would not serve a day in jail.

I can also see where the likely result of an appeal would be a finding of bias on Williams part, dropping him from the rest of the cases.

So he chose the other option, find Nero not guilty and live to fight another day.

There was one ruling in this case which may spell real trouble for Miller. Williams ruled that Grey’s record could not be admitted. Now I do not know why his record was not admitted, but if the same ruling stands for Miller it could be a real problem proving the stop was justified. There is a big difference between a known criminal running away from police and a person running away from police.

Now if Google beats Oracle. My week will be complete.

assemblerhead | May 23, 2016 at 3:09 pm

Surprised. Didn’t see this coming.

Lets see what happens on the other cases, shall we …

So, what happens to Nero now? Can he sue for back pay? Can he sue Mosby or the city for wrongful prosecution?

Good for Nero.

My friend just completed his transfer from the Baltimore PD to one of the adjoining counties. BPD is hemorrhaging officers every day. They have no faith that the city leaders are behind them. All metrics are down, arrests, traffic stops, drug seizures, etc. Why stick your neck out to do your job if the city will just hang you out to dry?

The protestors should be screaming about a political prosecution of dedicated public servants. Baltimore is what it is today because of the people who live there and tolerate such malfeasance and prefer to coddle criminals rather than to protect citizens.

I don’t blame any police officer, firefighter, EMS tech, or others who get out. The people are making clear their preference is for an anarchic hell-hole. Let them have it.

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/435736/freddie-gray-trial-police-officer-edward-nero-acquitted-charges-marilyn-mosby-baltimore

Andrew gets a very high accolade from Andy McCarthy for his reportage and analysis, which is well-earned and deserved. Thanks, Andrew!

Gremlin1974 | May 23, 2016 at 5:39 pm

Is the Judges Decision published yet or will it be?

Does anyone know if the Maryland Bar plans on waiting until the conclusion of the remaining trials before beginning Mosby’s debarment proceedings?

So where are all those people who were sure the fix was in, and that Williams was clearly biased? So far his decisions all seem to have been reasonable.

    Twanger in reply to Milhouse. | May 23, 2016 at 6:58 pm

    Well, it had all of the trappings of a show-trial, but they all don’t go as planned, as demonstrated by the Trademark Martin trial of the white hispanic Zimmerman. sic.

    Char Char Binks in reply to Milhouse. | May 23, 2016 at 7:02 pm

    Williams has clearly been biased in favor of the prosecution, but he still came to the correct verdict.

So does this mean that failure to buckle the seatbelt is not a crime? Can the other officers be charged and convicted of this in light of the judges comments?

    Milhouse in reply to calista241. | May 24, 2016 at 12:57 am

    Not necessarily. The state didn’t prove Nero knew about the new policy. If it can prove that one of the others did know, it could try again to claim that (1) the new policy removes all discretion from officers, and that (2) knowingly violating the policy amounts to a crime. Both propositions are iffy at best, but Williams didn’t rule them out, because he didn’t have to.

    Twanger in reply to calista241. | May 25, 2016 at 11:17 am

    No. The judge side-stepped this by saying that it was not Nero’s responsibility to belt poor Freddie in. So in relationship to Nero’s trial, it doesn’t really matter whether Freddie should have been belted in or not.

NPR just did a segment on the verdict which could have been scripted by the prosecution. They made sure to ding Nero with ‘suspicions’ and other such implications, and then focused on one of the protesters who was so ‘overcome’ that she collapsed, only barely able to struggle to their microphone and bleat about the horrible travesty of justice involved in setting the police officer free. (she had the longest soundbite)

To their credit, they did have a good quote by Billy Murphy (which does not show up in the text summary (link below), to their un-credit)
http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/05/23/479161174/baltimore-police-officer-found-not-guilty-in-freddie-gray-case

Last sentence: It remains unclear how this verdict will affect the trials of the other five officers.

My response: Can anyone doubt what NPR would have said if Officer Nero was convicted? With that in mind, even the most biased idiot could see this verdict will make the trials of the other five officers much more difficult. They just can’t say it.

If Miller were to request a bench trial, what are the odds that Williams would recuse himself? How could he not be biased after hearing Miller’s compelled testimony that is not supposed to used against Miller?

    Milhouse in reply to phiremin. | May 24, 2016 at 12:52 am

    What did Miller say that was incriminating? Does his defense intend to be inconsistent with anything he said? Williams was careful not to prejudge Miller’s case, since it wasn’t before him, but if I were Miller I’d be feeling happy about what Williams had to say, and would want him to sit on my case.

Gremlin1974 | May 23, 2016 at 8:47 pm

My question is can Porter request a bench trial for his re-trial or does he have to go with the jury again?

To CalFed about his reply.

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/freddie-gray/bs-md-ci-williams-nero-transcript-20160523-story.html

“The state concedes that pursuant to Wardlaw and Terry, that Miller had a right to stop Mr. Gray,”

When I posted the article was not available.

I think that along with statements that it was the transport teams responsibility to ensure Grey’s safety that blows the prosecution of the arresting team out of the water.

So now Mosby has a very difficult decision. Does she prosecute the black officers of the transport team?

    Milhouse in reply to RodFC. | May 24, 2016 at 1:01 am

    Not true. The state conceded that the Terry stop was proper. It did not concede that the arrest was proper, and Williams didn’t rule on that because it was irrelevant, since Nero was not involved in the arrest. At Miller’s trial the state can claim that the arrest was illegal. I don’t know on what grounds, but nothing that happened at this trial would prevent it from making such a claim.

Mr. Branca, you missed one thing in your post I wish you would add, since I cannot append pictures. That is a devil in a blue dress.

Hey Marilyn. Know what time it is? It’s time to dance!

JackRussellTerrierist | May 23, 2016 at 10:47 pm

The Court has issued a gag order for Nero. He can’t talk about the case. But his family can and are.

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