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Freddie Gray: Defense Rests in Trial of Officer Caesar Goodson

Freddie Gray: Defense Rests in Trial of Officer Caesar Goodson

Acquitted Officer Edward Nero testifies that Gray was non-compliant, and raucous inside police van

The defense has rested in the “Freddie Gray” trial of van driver Officer Caesar Goodson.  Goodson is charged with murder, manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment , and he is the third officer to be tried in the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody.  The jury trial of Officer William Porter ended in a hung jury, and Porter is scheduled to be re-tried.  The bench trial of Officer Edward Nero ended in an acquittal.  As was the case with Nero, Goodson also elected to have a bench trial.

This morning Officer Nero testified as a defense witness in Goodson’s trial.  According to reporting by the Baltimore Sun Nero testified that at the second stop of the van Gray was combative with officers, and that Nero heard what he described as “loud banging” coming from the van where Gray was placed by himself.  The Sun reports that prosecutors had few questions for Nero on cross-examination (perhaps they are still recovering from their self-inflicted cross-examination implosion yesterday).

This testimony obviously supports the defense contention that Gray’s injuries were caused by his own conduct and Newton’s First Law of Motion, rather than by any act or omission of the officers involved in Gray’s arrest and transport.  It also supports the officers’ contention that it remains within their discretion whether to seat belt an arrestee if they are non-compliant and violent, and that therefore any failure to seat belt Gray was reasonable and not criminal.

The defense also sought to put into evidence the closing statement of Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Michael Schatzow from the prior trial of Officer Edward Nero, presumably because Schatzow’s claims in that closing were inconsistent with his claims in this trial. Judge Williams denied the defense motion, but for all practical purposes the decision is irrelevant. Williams was both the trial judge and the finder of fact in Nero’s trial as he is in this trial, and he is well aware of what Schatzow previously claimed in closing. The defense’s motion is likely simply made to refresh Williams’ recollection of that closing, and that’s accomplished regardless of whether the motion is granted.

In light of the prosecution’s debacle yesterday Judge Williams may also have denied the defense motion on Eighth Amendment grounds.

In the prior trial of Edward Nero, Judge Williams delayed announcing his verdict (then, of not guilty on all charges) until the following Monday after closing arguments.  Even if closing statements are made this afternoon, I would not expect a verdict before Monday.

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Yet the baltimore Sun still trots out this David Jaros guy who is all prosecution, all the time and still has the gall to continue supporting this prosecution . It was noted by a commenter in another comment section that Jaros and Shatzow shared a background in another case alleging police brutality

legalbeagle | June 17, 2016 at 2:13 pm

Can someone educate me. What evidence does the prosecution have that (a) Mr. Grays death is a homicide rather than an accident (b) Officer Porter through negligence, malfeasance or malice committed a criminal act?

    Olinser in reply to legalbeagle. | June 17, 2016 at 3:29 pm

    1) Mosby and prosecutors SAY it was

    2) They have evidence that OH MY GOD LOOK OVER THERE A RACIST!!!!

    The prosecution rests.

8th amedment grounds?

    PrincetonAl in reply to RodFC. | June 17, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    A joke … 8th amendment covers “cruel and unusual punishment ” … Which is what a continuing fisking of the prosecution case could be.

    One could argue though that the punishment of parading their incompetence publicly not only fails to be excessive but doesn’t go nearly far enough 🙂

stevewhitemd | June 17, 2016 at 2:21 pm

In light of the prosecution’s debacle yesterday Judge Williams may also have denied the defense motion on Eighth Amendment grounds.

Ah, legal humor… 🙂

The Friendly Grizzly | June 17, 2016 at 2:21 pm

I am guessing this will be another avoid-the-riots Monday morning verdict announcement.

I expect the timing of the judgmentssssss will follow Williams’ pattern at the last trial, and be rendered early next week.

I’m a little concerned about some of the most minor charges, but mostly because I don’t know much about the trial WRT those charges.


    Gremlin1974 in reply to Ragspierre. | June 17, 2016 at 5:40 pm

    Well I think we can be sure the Murder and Assault charge have gone the way of the dodo, as well as the reckless endangerment. I really don’t see how he can even get to a conviction of misconduct in office with the way the policy was worded.

“Williams was both the trial judge and the finder of fact in Nero’s trial as he is in this trial, and he is well aware of what Schatzow previously claimed in closing.”

Is it proper for a Judge to use evidence from a different trail(whether or not they presided over that trail) to make a judgement?

I would think that you can only use evidence submitted at that trail.

    Ragspierre in reply to Merlin01. | June 17, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    It is simply human. And it isn’t so much evidence as it is argument.

    It was a shrewd move on the part of the defense. “Don’t think about the inconsistencies, Judge.”

I wonder if Goodson is found not guilty if defendants, especially black defendants will start opting for bench trials.

Assuming an acquittal here, how will the next (3) trials proceed? At what point does the judge have a frank discussion with the prosecution in his chambers and suggest that unless there is some as-yet not presented evidence that the 3 additional trials will end in the same result, only sooner (granting a move to dismiss).

    Ragspierre in reply to David Jay. | June 17, 2016 at 3:35 pm

    The answer to your literal question is, “Never!”.

    Judges are forbidden by legal ethics to hold any communication with one side only during a controversy before them. (A motion for a temporary injunction being one of the very few exceptions even possible).

    But as to your larger question, the judge has already made some very clear communications to the state. He’s sanctioned them in the form of admitting Det. Taylor’s information regarding Dr. Allen.

    Trial lawyers read judges, and this one is pissed off.

    TX-rifraph in reply to David Jay. | June 17, 2016 at 3:50 pm

    I think the criminal trials will be evaluated against the civil suits and the political agenda. Mosby is already starting to accept total failure on the criminal front (blame the cops). I think the political agenda is the prime driver but she will likely suffer losses on all three fronts. And, I hope the losses are painful because I see these cops suffering every day through this BS. They deserved none of this.

      OnTheLeftCoast in reply to TX-rifraph. | June 17, 2016 at 3:58 pm

      I’m beginning to wonder whether Mosby is trying to make enough dirt stick to the cops who are suing her to get her off the hook in the lawsuits.

      The Friendly Grizzly in reply to TX-rifraph. | June 17, 2016 at 7:08 pm

      It the lawsuits succeed, who is on the hook for the awards? Her personally, or the taxpayers?

“In light of the prosecution’s debacle yesterday Judge Williams may also have denied the defense motion on Eighth Amendment grounds.”

That’s just WRONG. I was eating my lunch while I was reading this; you nearly killed me, Mr. Branca!

Prediction. Before this week, I thought that if the prosecution lost this week, they would not proceed with the other prosecutions.

Now I think they will go one more case just to get this fiasco out of the publics mind. I think they are hoping for a case where Dr Allan does not have to testify.

It would be best to take advantage of the natural confusion in the intercity portion of Baltimore and announce the verdict on Fathers Day.

Coming from someone who does not have a background in law but as a mother of three, the prosecution leaves the impressions that they took their legal advice from the characters from Scooby Doo! I am just waiting for the closing arguments when they rip the mask off of Mosby and find out that she was really someone else all along. Most trials that I have watched closely, I can at least see where both sides are coming from, however this trial has been probably the most “I know you are, but what am I” one sided trials. Praying for Officer Goodson and his family.

Off topic in a way but in other police news Oakland is on their third police chief in nine days and now has civilian supervision. Expect to see the already high crime rate reflect the Ferguson effect.

Gremlin1974 | June 20, 2016 at 7:53 pm

Well apparently Judge Williams has announced that the will render his verdict Thursday morning at 10 AM.

Also the article contains some reporting on the actual questions that Judge Willimas asked of both the prosecution and defense during closing arguments.