Baltimore cop's murder trial verdict due
in death of Freddie Gray
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[June 23, 2016]
(Reuters) - A Maryland judge will
issue his verdict on Thursday in the closely watched murder trial of a
Baltimore police officer for the death of black detainee Freddie Gray,
an incident that triggered rioting and protests.
Officer Caesar Goodson Jr, 46, was the driver of a police wagon in
which Gray broke his neck in April 2015. Prosecutors said he gave
Gray a "rough ride," failed to ensure his safety and should have
called for a medic.
Goodson's defense team argued in Baltimore City Circuit Court that
Gray caused his own injuries by falling inside the transport van.
Goodson also lacked the training to recognize that Gray was hurt,
Goodson faces the most serious charges among the six officers
charged in Gray's death, making his the marquee case for
prosecutors. They failed to secure a conviction in two earlier
trials of officers.
Judge Barry Williams will hand down his verdict on Thursday morning.
Goodson waived a jury trial, and Williams is hearing the case in a
Gray's death spawned protests, rioting and arson in the majority
African-American city of 620,000 people and stoked a debate on U.S.
police treatment of people of color.
Gray, 25, was arrested for fleeing police officers unprovoked in a
high-crime area. He was bundled into Goodson's van shackled and was
not seatbelted inside the van, a violation of police procedure.
Goodson, who is also African-American, is charged with second-degree
depraved heart murder, three counts of manslaughter, reckless
endangerment, second-degree assault and misconduct in office.
If convicted on all charges, he faces more than 68 years in prison.
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Baltimore Police officer Caesar Goodson Jr., 46, the third officer
to face trial for Freddie Gray's death in a police van, arrives at
the courthouse for the first day of jury selection in Baltimore,
Maryland, United States on January 11, 2016. REUTERS/Jose Luis
During closing arguments on Monday, Williams peppered prosecutors
with questions about what evidence they had that Goodson had bounced
Gray around in the van with intent to harm him.
Prosecutor Michael Schatzow told Williams that Goodson's failure to
secure Gray and his injuries were enough to show that Gray had
gotten a "rough ride."
In the two previous cases, the manslaughter trial of Officer William
Porter ended in a hung jury in December, and he faces retrial in
September. Williams acquitted Officer Edward Nero of misdemeanor
charges last month.
(Writing by Ian Simpson in Washington, editing by G Crosse)
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