Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams said the motion
by the state compelling testimony by Officer William Porter appeared
to be a "stall tactic" since it would have indefinitely postponed
the trials of all six officers charged in Gray's death last April.
The 25-year-old West Baltimore man died from a broken neck suffered
in a police van. His death triggered protests and a day of rioting
and stoked a U.S. debate on race and policing.
Joseph Murtha, Porter's attorney, told Judge Williams the
prosecution wanted to "take him hostage in five cases ... they want
to torture him in his own trial with the threat of perjury."
Porter was the first officer to be tried, but his trial on
involuntary manslaughter and other charges ended in a hung jury last
month. A retrial is set for June.
Prosecutors had said Porter was a key witness against Officer Caesar
Goodson, the van's driver, and Sergeant Alicia White.
Goodson's trial on a second-degree murder charge had been set to
begin last week, but was delayed as Maryland's Court Of Special
Appeals considers Porter's legal bid to block Williams' order that
he testify for the state.
White's trial had been set for Feb. 8, but was also stayed pending a
ruling by the appeals court.
[to top of second column]
The trial of Officer Edward Nero for Feb. 22 will go on as planned.
Those of Officer Garrett Miller and Lieutenant Brian Rice are
scheduled for March 7 and March 9, respectively.
Lawyers for Nero, Miller and Rice had objected to prosecutors'
filings last week to compel Porter to testify in their trials. They
had said that prosecutors wanted to avoid trying their weakest cases
Williams had granted the prosecution's request to give Porter a type
of limited immunity in which his testimony could not be used against
him, but the charges would still stand.
(Additional reporting by Ian Simpson, editing by G Crosse)
[© 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2016 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.