Thursday, May 28, 2015

Baltimore Police Seek a Change of Venue

The Baltimore Sun reports that:

Defense attorneys for six police officers facing criminal charges in the Freddie Gray case are seeking to have the case tried elsewhere in Maryland, saying their clients can't get a "fair and impartial trial" in Baltimore.

In an 85-page document filed Wednesday with the court seeking a change of venue, the lawyers argued that a "presumption of prejudice" exists in the city.

Gray, 25, was arrested April 12 after running from officers patrolling West Baltimore and suffered a severed spinal cord and other injuries in police custody. His death a week later led to widespread protests and rioting that prompted a curfew and a National Guard deployment.

The case has drawn international attention and intense media coverage, and defense attorneys contend that not enough time has passed to permit "the type of healing and reconciliation in the community that would be needed to dampen the effects of the events surrounding the case."

The attorneys also sought to contrast the Gray case with other high-profile trials that weren't moved, including the case against the Boston marathon bomber. They argued that Baltimore City draws from a much smaller jury pool than those larger cities.

"Based on the relative size and characteristics of Baltimore City, the prejudicial information that has penetrated every form of online, printed and broadcast media, and the short time between the alleged crimes and the trial(s), the presumption of prejudice prevents the Officers in this case from receiving fair trials," the attorneys wrote.

The state's attorney's office did not respond to a request for comment on the filing.

Caesar Goodson, the driver of the van used to transport Gray, is charged with second-degree depraved heart murder, the most serious charge among the six officers. He also faces manslaughter, second-degree assault, two counts of vehicular manslaughter and misconduct in office.

William Porter, Brian Rice and Alicia White face manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct in office charges. Edward Nero and Garrett Miller are charged with second-degree assault and misconduct in office. All of the officers have been charged with reckless endangerment.

Read more here.

This move is no surprise. It was expected. If the court moves the case from Baltimore City to one of the nearby predominately white suburban counties, a conviction will be far less likely. We will probably see a repeat of what happened in Sanford, Ferguson, Chicago, Cleveland and so many other cities. Another dead black person and his family will be denied justice. The divide and hostility between the police and the black community will continue to expand.

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