State’s “rough ride” expert witness is destroyed on cross-examination; Prosecutors accuse lead Detective of sabotaging the investigation
As we’ve previously discussed, State prosecutors in the trial of van driver Officer Caesar Goodson were forced at the last minute to change their theory of the case from “Murder by Failure to Provide Medical Care” to “Murder by Rough Ride” after the evidentiary foundation for the prior theory evaporated.
Yesterday prosecutors called as a witness a purported expert on “rough rides.” Apparently the cross-examination of this witness by the defense was nothing short of brutal.
In addition, it’s being reported today that prosecutors have taken to explaining away their imploding case by claiming–for the first time ever in these Freddie Gray” trials–that police detectives deliberately threw the investigation so as to prevent convictions.
Before I go on, I want to give a large hat-tip to Mike McDaniel at Stately McDaniel Manor for bringing this to my attention. Mike is doing his own excellent coverage of these Freddie Gray trials. I also need to acknowledge Twitchy for capturing the live Tweets of Baltimore Sun Kevin Rector, @RectorSun.
Rather than write out a lengthy narrative, I’m going to let Kevin Rector’s tweets speak for themselves. I present them here in chronological order, first on the matter of “rough ride” expert witness for the State, Neil Franklin.
State’s “Rough Ride” Expert Witness
Mr. Franklin is reported by the Baltimore Sun to be “a retired state trooper who once oversaw training for the Baltimore Police Department. Franklin was called to testify about “retaliatory prisoner transportation practices” and police training.”
Wow. Not quite a “strong finish” by the State prosecutors.
This “murder by rough ride” is, may I remind the reader, effectively the last standing theory of the case for the prosecution.
Upon the state resting its case the defense immediately put forward a written (not merely oral) motion for acquittal. Typically trial judges reject such a motion out of hand. Curiously, Judge Williams told the parties that he would allow the prosecution to submit it’s own written rebuttal in the morning. I’m guessing that was not a fun-filled night for the prosecutors.
Regardless, this morning Judge Williams denied the defense motion for acquittal, and the defense got started presenting it’s own narrative.
Prosecutors Allege Detectives Sabotaged Freddie Gray Investigation
Today’s bit of drama apparently centers on allegations by the prosecutors–never before made in the 14 months since Gray’s injury and death–that police detectives had sabotaged the investigation against the six officers charged in Freddie Gray’s death.
That last tweet by Kevin Rector references his story printed earlier this afternoon at the Baltimore Sun, “Freddie Gray case: Baltimore police investigators, prosecutors clash in court.”
Although the story is not entirely clear on details, it appears that the defense had called as a witness Detective Dawnyell Taylor. It was Taylor’s notes, you may recall, that blew the foundation out from under the testimony of Medical Examinar Carol Allan by noting that Dr. Allan had earlier believed Gray’s injuries to be the result of an accident. Awkwardly for Dr. Allan, last week, before the disclosure of Taylor’s notes, she testified under oath that she had never claimed Gray’s injuries were the result of an accident and had always believed them to be the result of a homicide.
The fireworks apparently started when Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Michael Schatzow–who has been experience a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad series of “Freddie Gray” trials–alleged that Taylor had sabotaged the state’s case against the six officers charged in Gray’s Death. As the Baltimore Sun reports:
Tensions between police and prosecutors in Baltimore erupted in a downtown courtroom Thursday, with a top prosecutor accusing a lead detective of trying to sabotage the state’s case against six officers in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray.
Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Michael Schatzow also suggested that Det. Dawnyell Taylor, the lead detective in the police department’s investigation of Gray’s death, and other top police officials had tried to persuade assistant medical examiner Dr. Carol Allan to rule Gray’s death an accident rather than a homicide.
Taylor denied the claims, and in turn suggested Deputy State’s Attorney Janice Bledsoe, with whom she had fallen out during the investigation, lacked integrity and was dismissive of evidence in the case.
[Taylor] also accused Bledsoe of acting like a child, who at one point “stormed out of the room in a tantrum” during a meeting to exchange evidence.
Prosecutor Schatzow’s efforts to impeach Taylor’s testimony appears to have boomeranged hard:
Schatzow asked Taylor who else from the police department was with her when Allan allegedly said Gray’s death was a “freakish accident.”
She identified a long list of top commanders, including current Commissioner Kevin Davis.
For good measure, the defense also called as a witness a van driver for the Baltimore Police Department, Officer Mark Butler, to gut the state’s “Murder by Failure to Seat Belt” theory of the case:
After Taylor, the defense called Officer Mark Butler, who like Goodson is a longtime van driver for the department. He said he was never trained on seat-belting passengers.
Sorry, I was laughing so hard there for a moment I wasn’t able to type.
The Baltimore Sun piece also addresses the issue of why Judge Williams had yesterday stated that Taylor’s testimony about Allan’s “accident” statement would normally not be admissible, but that he would admit the evidence nevertheless:
Taylor was allowed to testify about Allan’s alleged statements, which would normally be considered hearsay, as part of a “remedy” ordered by Circuit Judge Barry G. Williams for the state having broken discovery rules in the case by failing to provide certain evidence to the defense. Williams ordered Taylor’s testimony admissible earlier this week.
Well, within a few hours I expect we’ll have some end-of-day reports from the journalists in the courtroom of the murder trial of Officer Caesar Goodson. More good stuff then, I expect.
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