Thursday, June 16, 2016

Is Officer Caesar Goodson Going to Get Away with Killing Freddie Gray?

The Baltimore Sun reports that:

Judge Barry G. Williams has denied a motion to acquit Baltimore Police Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., charged in the death of Freddie Gray.

Defense attorneys for Goodson filed the written motion at the conclusion of the state’s case asking Williams to issue a judgment of acquittal, based on the defense claim that prosecutors had not proven Goodson’s guilt to a reasonable degree on the charges against him – including second-degree depraved heart murder.

Such motions are standard at the midway point in trials, after prosecutors have rested their case and before the defense mounts its own.

Williams questioned the state closely, saying the murder charge was a "close call."

The defense will proceed with calling witnesses Thursday.

The prosecution concluded its case Wednesday after calling a police expert witness who testified about so-called rough rides but couldn’t say whether Goodson, the driver of the van in which Gray was injured, gave such a ride to Gray.

Gray, 25, died a week after his arrest in April of last year from a severe spinal cord injury that both sides agree he suffered in the back of the van. They have argued over when and how the injury occurred during Gray’s 45-minute transport in the back of the van.

Goodson, 46, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree depraved heart murder, three counts of manslaughter and related charges. Prosecutors allege that he failed to secure Gray in a seat belt or call a medic for Gray after he had requested one. They also allege that he intentionally drove Gray around in a reckless manner.

Defense attorneys have said Gray’s injuries were a tragic accident.

The state called a total of 21 witnesses over five days. The court has not said how long the defense expects to take in presenting its case.

I am deeply concerned that Officer Goodson make walk away a free man still employed by the Baltimore City Police Department. According to some legal experts, the prosecution did not present any evidence proving that Officer Goodson took Freddie Gray on a "rough ride." Equally as important, the judge admitted the medical examiner's notes into evidence. As reported in the Sun, the notes suggest that the medical examiner initially considered ruling Freddie Gray's death an accident. The notes undermine the medical examiner's court testimony and credibility. Furthermore, it is unclear whether the judge will find that Goodson's failure to secure Freddie Gray in a seat belt rises to the level of deprived heart murder or even manslaughter.

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