By CATHERINE PALMER
News & Features Editor
Judge Barry Williams set trial dates for the six Baltimore Police Department (BPD) officers implicated in the death of Freddie Gray in a hearing on Tuesday.
The first trial, originally scheduled to start Oct. 13, will begin Nov. 30. At the hearing, attorneys for Officer William Porter, who will be the first officer tried, asked for the date to be pushed in light of new evidence presented by prosecutors. Judge Williams granted their request.
The prosecution asked for Porter to be tried first because they say he is a “necessary and material witness” in the cases against Sergeant Alicia White and Officer Caesar Goodman, Jr. If Porter were to be tried after either White or Goodman, he could refuse to take the stand during their trails for fear of self-incrimination.
According to The Baltimore Sun, Porter told investigators that he informed both Goodman and White that Gray needed medical care. However, Porter said he was unsure at the time if Gray was actually injured or feigning injury to avoid charges. White denies she was told that Gray needed medical attention.
Additionally, Porter said he told Goodman that Gray would not be booked until he had received medical attention, raising the question of why Gray was transported to the police station before going to the hospital.
Five of the six accused officers attended the hearing. Porter, who waived his right to attend, and White are both charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct in office.
Goodman, the driver of the van that transported Gray, is charged with second-degree depraved involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct in office.
In accordance with the delay in Porter’s trial, prosecutors asked Tuesday that new dates be set for the other five trials, and Judge Williams granted their request.
Goodson is set to be tried Jan. 6 and White on Jan. 25.
Officers Garrett Miller and Edward Nero are charged with second-degree assault and misconduct in office and will be tried Feb. 9 and Feb. 22, respectively.
Lieutenant Brian Rice is charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct in office and will be tried on March 9.
Defense attorneys for all of the officers also filed a motion on Tuesday requesting that Williams reevaluate his Sept. 10 ruling that the trials will be held in Baltimore. They cited a Baltimore Sun article published Sunday as the primary reason for the reconsideration.
The article focuses on Porter’s statements against Goodman and White. According to The Sun, the BPD gave the writers an exclusive summary of their investigation but not the officer’s statements.
“Whether this Honorable Court rules that the statements are inadmissible in none, one, or all six trials, the prejudicial information has already been published to the potential jurors.”
The defense motion also cited a Sun column published Sept. 10 in which writer Dan Rodricks envisioned going through the process of jury selection as a lawyer in the Gray case.
Freddie Gray, 25, died in April from a severe spinal cord injury, one week after being arrested by BPD officers. His death sparked more than a week of both peaceful protests and rioting.