BALTIMORE (WJZ) – Staying in Baltimore. The officers charged in Freddie Gray’s death will face trial here.
Lawyers for the officers claim there’s no way they can get a fair trial in Baltimore, but the judge disagrees.
WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren has new reaction.
The defense attorney who argued to move the cases out of Baltimore says prosecutors have twisted the facts and it will be next to impossible to seat a jury.
But the judge wants to give it a try, believing the massive publicity and unrest are not enough to taint jurors for what will be six separate trials.
Demonstrators outside the courthouse erupted in cheers after learning trials for the six officers charged in Freddie Gray’s death will likely stay in Baltimore.
The decision drew praise from the Gray family’s attorney.
“I think it was a victory for Baltimore. I think it was the correct decision,” said William “Billy” Murphy, Gray family’s lawyer.
…And criticism from the defense.
“We are obviously very disappointed in the judge’s rulings. We need to make it clear that our disappointment has nothing to do with our trust in the good citizens of Baltimore City,” said Ivan Bates, defense attorney.
Lawyers for the officers argued jurors might be scared a “not guilty” verdict could cause another riot and criticized the multi-million dollar payment the city will make to Gray’s parents.
“May very well equate this very large settlement to a finding by city officials that these officers committed wrongdoing,” said Warren Alperstein, Baltimore lawyer.
“I’m confident that the judge has made the right decision. It will allow the city to focus on healing,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
The judge said the defense never gave evidence that all potential jurors were tainted.
Prosecutors pointed to the successful trials of Maryland sniper John Allen Muhammad and the Boston bomber that also had no change of venue.
“It may have prejudiced future jurors, but we don’t know that. And that’s why we have jury selection,” said Doug Colbert, University of Maryland law professor.
Officer William Porter is accused of ignoring Gray’s cries for help and leaving him unbuckled in the transport van. He’ll be first to face trial in October—perhaps by jury.
“As they listen to the facts from both sides, then they have to make up their decision just like any other case,” said Tessa Alston-Hill, Baltimore NAACP president.
The officers could decide they’re not going to take their chances on a jury and simply let the judge decide.
The case is costing tax payers a lot of money. According to our media partner The Baltimore Sun, police overtime for Thursday alone cost more than $230,000.
The demonstration Thursday morning was substantial, but peaceful, with only one arrest—a woman who authorities say would not move into a designated protest area.
Follow our LIVE BLOG for the latest on Thursday’s hearing.