ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Critical decision. Maryland’s highest court hears arguments from attorneys for the officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray. At issue is whether to force Office William Porter to testify against them.
Meghan McCorkell with more on what happened inside the courtroom.
That panel of judges spent just under two hours questioning the attorneys on both sides of the case. Now, all eyes are on the Court of Appeals as we await a decision.
The six officers accused in the death of Freddie Gray appear in the state’s highest court. At issue–should Officer William Porter be forced to testify against his fellow officers?
“We are in very uncharted or unchartered waters here,” said Gary Proctor, Porter’s attorney.
Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams has ordered Porter to testify against Sergeant Alicia White and Officer Caesar Goodson.
Porter’s attorneys say that violates his Fifth Amendment rights.
“If we poison the jury well and we poison the witness well, his rights under 9123 do not ensure him a fair trial,” said Proctor.
Porter faces a retrial on manslaughter charges in June after his first trial ended with a hung jury.
Prosecutors have agreed not to use his testimony in the other officers’ trials against him.
“To be sure, it is not only his testimony, but any evidence or information that might be derived from that testimony that would be prohibited,” said Carrie Williams, assistant attorney general.
The issue has delayed all of the officers’ cases. Now the seven judge panel will decide how to go forward after questioning both sides.
“What is the harm to Officer Porter if he were to simply tell his story again?” asked one judge.
The decision is now in the hands of the Court of Appeals, which could rule quickly.
“It would not surprise me if we heard something later today or tomorrow,” said Doug Colbert, University of Maryland law professor.
Colbert says he’d be surprised if the judges block Porter’s testimony.
“The law in our state and in the country has always permitted prosecutors to grant immunity to a witness who’s unwilling to testify,” he said.
For now, it’s a waiting game for one of the biggest decisions in the trials.
While there is speculation that the decision could come quickly, the judges could potentially take weeks or even months to rule.
Officer Porter’s retrial is scheduled to begin in June.