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Judge Declines Request to Move Second Freddie Gray Death Trial Out of Baltimore

( [email protected] ) Jan 06, 2016 01:12 PM EST
A Maryland judge on Wednesday rejected a request to move out of the city the trial of a Baltimore police officer charged with murder in connection with the April death of Freddie Gray while in police custody.
A man, who declined to offer his name, walks past a mural of Freddie Gray in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood of Baltimore, December 17, 2015. Reuters

A Maryland judge on Wednesday rejected a request to move out of the city the trial of a Baltimore police officer charged with murder in connection with the April death of Freddie Gray while in police custody.

Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams denied a request by lawyers for Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., one of six officers facing criminal charges related to the incident, to move the trial out of the city due to the intense publicity that surrounded the riots that followed Gray's death.

The majority black city of 620,000 people exploded in a day of arson and rioting after Gray's funeral, which followed other police killings of black men in cities including New York and Ferguson, Missouri.

Goodson is the second officer to stand trial for Gray's death and faces the most serious charge, second-degree depraved-heart murder. The 46-year-old officer, who like Gray is black, was the driver of the van where Gray, who was arrested on April 12 after fleeing police, sustained the injuries that killed him.

The first of the six trials, in which Officer William Porter faced manslaughter charges, ended last month in a mistrial after the jury was unable to reach a verdict. Porter is set to be retried in June.

The judge also denied a defense motion to block the testimony of Dr. Carol Allan, the medical examiner who ruled Gray's death a homicide. Jury selection in the trial is due to begin on Monday.

Prosecutors have proposed that Porter be given immunity to take the stand without his testimony being used against him at his retrial. But Porter's lawyers have claimed that forcing him to testify would harm his constitutional rights against self-incrimination.

Goodson faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted of the murder charge. In Maryland, "depraved-heart" murder is a killing done while acting with extreme disregard for human life.

He also is accused of three counts of manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment.