Freddie Gray: Prosecution’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Trial
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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Would it help them politically if they convict a black man? I wouldn’t think so.
It’s necessary for them to convict a black man if they’re to have any hope of convicting a white man.
You have to remember in the social structure that is being discussed, Goodson isn’t Black, to them he is a traitor cop. So convicting him is just like convicting any of the other cops.
Correction He is a race traitor cop.
If you have a bad case you do the best job you can and take your lumps. You DON’T start alleging the Police are conspiring to hurt your case.
That is a Selfish and Childish Act that could lead to more riots when the defendant gets acquitted.
Shame on you!
They don’t have a “bad case”.
They have no case at all !
The best job they could have done, the ethical and decent thing to do, was to not bring charges in the first place.
Schatzow has a real nasty-as-buzzard-spit personality, it would appear.
He’s very unprofessional, even in his pleadings. Imagine Allan Grayson as a prosecutor.
I have a hard enough time imagining Alan Grayson as a fellow Homo Sapiens.
And all along, I thought you were Alan Grayson.
Without all of the charm.
Alan Grayson is not as nice as he looks…
lol, Alan Garyson looks like a guy who drives a white panel van near schools with “Free Candy” spray painted on the side.
Sounds like Bledsoe wasn’t getting the damning evidence she wanted.
The tweets are also summed up here.
At this point all I can think, a lot of fireworks are going off.
Big question, with all this testimony does it open the door for Bledsoe to become a witness .
PS The only known leak from the investigation is from Bledsoe to her girlfriend about Donte Allen.
Summary of tweets.
Investigation? What investigation? The mob was ready to breach the gate, Freddie was barely in the ground and six Baltimore police officers were arrested and charged with felonies, up to and including murder, after a cursory and perfunctory examination of “the case.”
Reap what you sow, Baltimore. You voted in a totally inept and inexperienced social justice prosecutor, paid a drug dealer’s family six million dollars for a self-inflicted injury, and then tried to lay it all on the feet of six dedicated and innocent cops.
Yep, best breakdown I have heard yet.
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.
This is called “being gutted” by the witness. Like a fish.
Terrible trial preparation.
Isn’t there something about not asking a question if you don’t already know the answer?
And THIS is why…!!! When you have no clue how badly a question can gut you, you simply STFU.
This is ESPECIALLY true of a witness who’s adversarial and GOOD, and most detectives are GOOD because they’re practiced witnesses.
You just get them on and off the witness stand as low-key as possible. No theatrics. No opportunities for them to run the table on you.
This assumes you haven’t had time to interview or depose them, which can flip that script.
I don’t believe that Taylor was on the witness list. Hard to prepare for a witness not on the list.
They knew about her long ago, and likely have people who work and have worked with her on trials before. She has colleagues they’ve worked with, and they have everything she’s said WRT this case.
They ALSO had Dr. Allen.
The prosecution produced the notes that Taylor made documenting Dr Allan’s initial conclusion that the death had been an accident. They had to have some insight into what she was going to say.
Asking who else was present when Dr Allan made her initial statements was really bush league. Taylor’s answer- a long list of top police officials-was devastating.
Just MNHO, but when you have a pivotal witness damaged as was Dr. Allen, ONE of the priorities you set for your time (a terrible scarcity during a trial) is an intense session to see what you can do to rehabilitate/resurrect your witness and impeach anyone you can.
If the state didn’t do that, well…
But they only knew about having to turn over the results of the meeting for a week. Only Bledsoe may have known about the statements, and she may not have realized the notes existed.
I don’t think the question was all that bad. If the answer was a no they would have benefited greatly. The answer they got makes them look stupid to us, but I don’t think it makes Allan look anyway worse or change the nature of the evidence in the mind of the judge. her reputation was mud before, it is mud now.
“But they only knew about having to turn over the results of the meeting for a week. Only Bledsoe may have known about the statements”
How much time did they need? A week was plenty of time to come up with a strategy…even if the strategy was simply to not ask questions the answers to which were spectacularly unhelpful.
Over the weekend, everyone one on the prosecution team learned about the notes.
A week??!!. Horse crap! They knew they had to turn over that report from the minute they received it. Brady had been on the books longer than most of them have had bar cards, maybe even drivers’ licenses. They decided to hide it.
The week only applies to the time they had to act once they earned that the defense knew about the report. And they didn’t do it right from that point…
My nephew who is just starting to practice law tells me he thinks both Mosby and Schatzow are making what he calls “textbook” mistakes almost daily. In his opinion even a “second floor” law school would teach not to do much of what they have done. By “second floor” he refers to the small law schools that often occupy a few rooms in a walk up office building.
His theory is the top decision makers (AG? State’s Attorney?) never thought they had a solid case. They are hedging that a negative outcome can be deflected and will give them the “cover” they want from all of the BLM noise, and the like. So far some of the prosecution’s actions or reactions in court tend to support that idea. In other words, they are gambling that acquittals with lots of statements at trial that can be “spun” as conspiracy was the better outcome versus not going to trial and having to deal with the mob.
I’d go with the Occam’s Razor explanation instead … that Affirmative Action is the leveler of mountains and the destroyer of worlds.
never blame malice when incompetence can be attributed
Mosby was elected, not an affirmative action hire. Won the (D) primary solidly.
“Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” You know, Mencken was from Baltimore, wasn’t he?
It was an affirmative action election just like that which got Tyrant Obama the Liar elected.
Seems also to be a direct violation of the rule “Don’t ever ask a witness a question when you don’t know the answer already.”
Next violation comes with “Don’t argue with the witness” as they proceed to savage the detectives in a frantic attempt to preserve their own worthless hides.
It also violates fundamental tenants of cross-examination. Never ask a question if the answer will be bad for your side, or if you don’t know the answer.
Is Shatzow foolhardy enough to call a parade of Mosby allies to perjure themselves as rebuttal witnesses and be lambasted on cross?
Wow, Franklin really got a rough ride!
Sometimes I hate myself.
Man, its alright, somebody had to do it, lol. 🙂
As I posted yesterday, this is not a prosecution but a PERSECUTION. As a lay person, I can not understand how these prosecutors have a law license, let alone are still walking around. No offense to real lawyers, but baltimore seems to have it’s own profession, the IL-LEGAL Profession !
Seeing the State get handed its head in court like this helps reaffirm my confidence in our overall system–as messy and imperfect as it is. I am sorry for the officers who have to suffer this “process as punishment” though.
We saw very similar actions by the state in the Martin/Zimmerman trial in FL. No punitive actions were taken against the corrupt judge and the two imbecile prosecutors. All in all, these trials are reminders of the OJ trial and how badly the prosecution and the judge were. Talk about never ask a question unless you know the answer!
Some people call it “trial by fury,” and it does happen, from time to time. A clear, recent example is the Duke LaCrosse Team rape case. That case was eventually dropped, and the prosecutor disbarred.
It takes a while for all the evidence to be sorted and decisions made.
Clearly these were SLAPP-like charges from the get-go.
The process is the punishment.
So the state’s own “expert” on rough rides admits on the stand that he “can’t say for sure” if Gray received a rough ride?
Case closed. What a huge waste of time and money this circus is.
When this all started someone said that Schatzow was an honest and very good lawyer. Is his terrible performance here just because he his trying to make lemonade not out of lemon but lemon crap?
Bledsoe OTOH seems to be the one behind the slimiest part.
I remember someone saying that about Schatzow , he had worked with him years before .
If I remember right Rags ripped him for it
Freddie was engaged in a”crash for cash” scheme . A lawyer would need to be behind this , making it work . Bledsoe has behaved quite erratically and hid evidence . The antics of her girlfriend with interviewing Donta Allen was very unprofessional at best , witness tampering at worst.
She also told detectives not to “do the defenses work in checking to see if Freddie injured himself in custody before.
i believe it was Taylor that she told that too . ( unsure)
Bledsoe several years ago was Freddies lawyer on an unrelated court appearance .
Maybe she’s doing more than just hiding evidence , to get the cops , maybe it is to direct attention away from the crash for cash schemes . As I said a lawyer is usually the centerpiece of that kind of scheme
No accusation just saying.
Ahh, such are the perils of running a “parallel investigation”, spearheaded by the City Sheriff’s Office…whose primary duties are courthouse security.
“Schatzow asked her if all of the commanders in the room had suggested to Allan that Gray’s death was an accident. Taylor said they had not, and that Allan had offered the assessment on her own.”
Stupid question and resulting gutting No. 2.
“That was precisely the news the command staff was looking for, wasn’t it?” Schatzow said, suggesting a less than impartial investigation by police.
There was then an extended discussion regarding Taylor’s testimony that she had taken notes at the meeting with Allan, and the state’s contention that she had given those notes directly to the defense without providing them to the state.
Taylor said she offered her notes multiple times to Bledsoe, but that Bledsoe either ignored them or pushed them away when offered.”
Stupid question and gutting by witness No. 3.
“The fiery exchange between Schatzow and Taylor was repeatedly broken up by conferences between prosecutors and defense attorneys at Williams’ bench.
During one of those conferences, Bledsoe leaned back from the judge’s bench and she and Taylor stared at each other for several seconds on end. After another conference, Schatzow and Bledsoe stood to the side of the bench conversing as Bledsoe gestured wildly at Taylor.”
That is Det. Taylor, according to the caption.
“Stupid question and resulting gutting No. 2.
“That was precisely the news the command staff was looking for, wasn’t it?” Schatzow said, suggesting a less than impartial investigation by police.”
You know, it could also be interpreted as an admission by Schatzow that the ME did make the statement that it was an accident, but merely to appease the command staff. Interesting, since the good doctor swore that such words never passed her lips.
As someone who has served many times as an expert witness (in IT-related civil litigation) over the past 17 years, I can tell you that Franklin would likely never have been permitted to testify like this were this a civil matter, particularly in US District Court. The defense would have deposed him first and, having gotten his answers (or lack thereof) would have filed and almost certainly won a Daubert motion to exclude him as an expert due to his lack of methodology, relevant qualifications, and actual analysis of the actual evidence. (Note that there are multiple cases over the years that I have turned down because I didn’t consider myself sufficiently qualified in the specific domain and didn’t want risk getting a Daubert exclusion myself.)
On the other hand, it may actually have been more effective for the defense to be able to cross him like this in open court.
The same is true of criminal cases. Remember Tim Owens in the Zimmerman case, though it was a Frye hearing not a Daubert hearing?
Maybe the defense didn’t objector the judge let him testify as an expert subject to the results of the cross. There is no jury, so he is supposed to sift through such things.
I’m as much an expert on rough rides as Franklin — unexpected stops, starts, and other rapid changes in velocity can be tough on passengers, especially those who aren’t restrained. Hitting one’s head on a hard surface can hurt. Do I have any evidence that Goodson subjected Gray to a rough ride? No, but that doesn’t prove that he didn’t! Spell my name right on the check, please.
I used to jump rice levies on a dirt bike as a kid, can I be a rough ride expert now to?!?
Certainly teaching your daughter to drive a stick-shift would qualify one….
Time to buy stock in Orville Redenbacher
Too late to benefit from a market move, this trial is (and probably the next 4 trials as well are) over…
I’m not sure how this works but isn’t the trial a little late for the prosecution to be claiming the police sabotaged the investigation?
If they thought this was the case all along then couldn’t they have asked for an independent investigation? What are a prosecutor’s options if they think the police are botching an investigation?
Not really remember the prosecutor’s office did a “parallel independent investigation”, lol. Apparently a wholly incompetent one, but none the less, there you go.
The prosecution should just claim that a police dog ate their case. Six times.
Having watched that Irving Younger lecture yesterday, the contrast between the defense cross and the prosecution is stunning.
“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.”
IOW, a “sanction” against the state.
Despite all this, however, the Court denied a defense motion to acquit following the resting of the State’s case. So the judge sees sufficient evidence to prove each element beyond a reasonable doubt? Because if it’s not there at this point, he’s ethically bound to acquit NOW. This is a bench trial, not a jury trial, so he cannot avail himself of the whole “there’s enough there for (other) reasonable minds to find it to be sufficient.” He’s it.
Good Lord, what a kangaroo court!
The judge is required to evaluate the evidence in a “light most favorable to the prosecution” when evaluating the defense motion for acquittal.
Such is not the case when he is deciding the verdict at the end of the case.
Ah. So he’s only allowed to consider whether or not the prosecution actually presented evidence to support each element of each charge, but not whether that evidence was in any way credible?
Judges gonna judge.
Do these prosecutors claim to be professionals? What a disgrace.
You have to remember once Mosby was elected around 1/3 of the long time prosecutors quit and then Mosby went through the office and fired people…..well basically because she didn’t like their face. So what is left are the nitwits, affirmative action projects, and people who work for the government because they don’t have the skills to work elsewhere.
When she fired them , it was reported she just went in their office and made a slashing throat cutting motion across her neck to fire them . Real Class Act
Yea, I remember that being reported. But most of the smart ones left before she took office and/or were already working on their notice.
Although I believe it is in the interest of justice for all the remaining charges to be dismissed, I have to admit I have a selfish interest in finally seeing that damn knife.
* SHRUG* its becoming increasingly clear that Freddie gray died as he lived … Stuck on stupid … If as it seems to be the case he caused his own injuries … But … And this could be a fun side show to watch If mosby can’t convict anyone here
A better example of how a defense attorney should go after a prosecution’s expert witness probably can’t be found.
Andrew, I’ve noticed most of your coverage links come from the Baltimore Sun.
I asked the wife, who dutifully reads CNN daily despite my attempts at persuading her to just look away from the crap show, if she had seen ANYTHING on their page about Freddie Gray Trials in the past month. She said…nope, nothing. It’s possible she missed it or wasn’t interested, but it certainly wasn’t designed to grab the nation’s attention the way the original charges and incident did.
I wonder if they say nothing then go full out headlines about how everyone “gets away with it” like it’s a huge bombshell. What’s the cost of another space to destroy riot for the local taxpayers when national/international ratings and clicks are on the line?
I think that is the exact reason they stooped to accusing the police of sabotaging the investigation. They are already setting up the “Blue Wall” meme. “We lost because the cops protected the bad cops!”
Perzactly. Every cop should find work elsewhere. Move out of that craphole. Let the people who elected Mosby suck it up when they call 9-1-1 and nobody’s home.
WGAS if they burn that crap city to the ground. They’d be doing he country a favor.
This may not be a popular thing to say, but I’m willing to admit that there is such a thing as police brutality.
But a wildly out of control example of prosecutorial misconduct and overrreach is not how you go about fixing the system. Mosby is demonstrating is the system is all kinds of screwed up toward defendants in infinite ways.
It’s as if the #BlackLivesMatter crowd wants to make it unmistakably clear they’re not opposed to lynchings under the color of law. They don’t want to fix an unfair system. Their only goal is to be in charge of lynchings.
Yes, I was being tongue in cheek when I said “it’s as if.”
There is no significant difference between the KKK and the BLM movement.
Where did Mosby get her affirmative action JD from?
What’s ironic about that question is that Mosby has had very little direct role in these cases.
Wherever she went to law school, she passed a bar exam, and I don’t know of any of those that have a whiff if affirmative action about them.
The two state attorneys in this trial are both white and both have years of trial work behind them. Bledsoe was once a defendant’s advocate who actually represented Dead Fred in a criminal matter.
From seeing what my brother went through getting ready for and taking his bar exam it must be a real _________(insert adult language here). That is also in a state that doesn’t have seperate bar exams for area’s of practice, just one exam for all. I can’t imagine having to take more than one exam just so I could practice in different areas.
The defense rests!
I thought they were going to use more expert testimony, but with the fireworks we may have missed it.
I think ‘rests’ is not the right word here. More like ‘leans back in their recliners, pops open a few brews, and watches the fireworks while waiting for the acquittal, at which point the Left will go bonkers and the fireworks will only get brighter.’
That’s not true. Even if you remove Allen’s testimony there are charges that stick are a possibility. Such as assault.
The biggest mistake the defense would make is rooting over the big win and allow a small loss.
There is no evidence of a crime so it is the persecuter’s case depends on the corrupt judges SJW leanings.
The defense needs to lay out their case and kick the legs out from under at least one of the required elements of each charge. Especially, since it helps get the truth out in public, even if its not widely covered.
The second criminal (Donnita Allen?) in the paddy wagon that night told detectives that there wasn’t a rough ride. Why doesn’t his statement preclude the persecutors from claiming that there was a rough ride?
Allen’s testimony is evidence. It is rather tainted evidence, as he has contradicted himself. All evidence has only relative value…some being quite good, some being essentially worthless or even damning to its sponsor.
No evidence “precludes” any side from presenting their case. A lot of trial advocacy is involved in emphasizing YOUR evidence and ignoring the other side’s evidence, or even turning it against them.
Remember, trails are not about a search for metaphysical truth. They are about persuasion in an adversarial and quite stilted setting. Very imperfect, but the best there is, IMNHO.
His testimony is the only evidence about the ride.