BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A new phase is about to begin in the trial of Officer William Porter. The prosecution wraps up in its case, and in the morning, it will be the defense’s turn to call some witnesses.
Porter is charged with manslaughter, assault and misconduct in office in connection with the death of Freddie Gray. He is the first of six officers to face trial.
WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren with Tuesday’s important developments.
Before prosecutors rested their case against Officer William Porter, they presented more than a dozen witnesses over parts of five days, building their theory that Porter knew police policy mandated he seat belt Freddie Gray in the wagon and get him medical help, but that Porter cared too little for Gray’s life to do either.
“The whole case is done with an eye to making the most persuasive closing argument to the jury,” said Doug Colbert, University of Maryland law professor.
“The defense is doing a good job right now,” said Raymond Jefferson, courtroom observer. “They’re fighting. They’re not giving up.”
The judge rejected a defense motion that all four charges against Officer Porter be thrown out.
“The defense must make a motion to dismiss, and invariably, that motion’s denied,” Colbert said.
Dr. Michael Lyman was the final prosecution witness. He said Officer Porter should have gotten Gray a medic when he asked, and it was Porter’s responsibility as well as that of van driver Officer Caesar Goodson to call for medical attention for Gray.
Ralph Pritchett watched the testimony.
“He was pretty much and very obviously hurt and in a position that he couldn’t help himself, especially being in restraints,” said Pritchett.
When the defense begins its case, they will call their own experts and paint the Baltimore Police Department as an inept agency while pointing blame at other officers charged–but their star witness will likely be Officer Porter himself.
“He has a lot of explaining to do and he also wants to leave the jury with the best impression of himself,” said Colbert.
Another piece of evidence the defense will likely present is about Freddie Gray’s prior back injury.
The judge ruled the prosecution had withheld it from the defense Monday, although he did not declare a mistrial, he said the defense can use it in their case.