BALTIMORE (WJZ) — All eyes will be on a Baltimore court room Thursday as a judge decides whether the trials for the six officers accused in the Freddie Gray case should stay in Baltimore or be moved to another county in the state.
Derek Valcourt has the decision facing the judge.
Attorneys for all six officers accused in the April death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray plan to argue round-the-clock news coverage of Gray’s arrest and death, the riots that followed and extensive reporting on the six officers accused will make it impossible for the defendants to get a fair and unbiased jury in Baltimore.
“The defense is worried—not unreasonably—that a Baltimore City jury would either be inclined to find guilt or would be scared of the result if they voted not guilty,” said Andrew Levy.
The potential for more riots and violence may not be a factor in Judge Barry Williams’ decision—but protestors warn it may be a reality.
“We would see the uprising again if this case is moved out of the city of Baltimore,” said Rev. Westley West, Faith Empowered Ministries.
That’s exactly why police canceled all leave for Thursday, ahead of the expected protests.
“Now, we don’t know what the future holds but we’re prepared to act and to react to whatever scenarios unfold in front of us,” said Interim Police Commissioner Kevin Davis.
The court hearing comes just one day after the city formally approves a $6.4 million civil settlement with Freddie Gray’s family.
“Keep in mind the civil settlement is not admissible in the criminal trial,” Levy said.
Levy expects news of the settlement will not impact the judge’s decision on whether to move the cases, saying any jury would get special instructions to base their verdict only on evidence admitted during the trial.
If the judge does decide to move the trials, it would be up to the city’s administrative judge to rule where the cases would be tried.
The hearing starts at 9 a.m. It’s likely the judge will make a ruling after he hears oral arguments from both sides.