BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The officer facing the most serious charges in Freddie Gray’s death heads to trial just days from now. It could be the pivotal case.
The van driver, Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., is facing more than 30 years behind bars for second-degree depraved heart murder.
WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren has more on what to expect.
A huge fight over what evidence the jury can hear will start on Monday. Unlike the last trial for Officer Edward Nero, this one will focus more on medical evidence and whether Freddie Gray pleaded for help inside the van.
Prosecutors have placed primary responsibility for Freddie Gray’s death on Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., who drove the transport van. Among the charges he faces: second-degree depraved heart murder, second-degree assault manslaughter and misconduct in office.
Legal analyst Adam Ruther says the state is again using a unique legal theory.
“Officer Goodson is being charged for failing to do something that the state claims he had a duty to do, which is to get Freddie Gray the medical attention that he was asking for,” said Ruther.
The star witness is expected to be fellow officer William Porter, who is being forced to testify.
Officer Goodson called for a welfare check on Freddie Gray at Druid Hill and Dolphin Street. Officer Porter joined him at the back of the van, where Gray asked for a medic. One was never called.
“The state is arguing that rises to the level of an extreme disregard for human life,” said Ruther.
Goodson is the only one of the officers who never gave a statement to police and is trying to keep out testimony of lead internal affairs investigator Syreeta Teel, who says Gray asked for a medic. Goodson is also trying to throw out portions of the autopsy.
The case is expected to be a trial by jury, which is riskier than normal because of the emotions this case has generated and because most jurors have probably already seen the evidence extensively covered in the press.
“Not only is every one of those jurors going to know something about the case, but every one of those jurors is likely to know something about the cases that were tried before this one,” said Ruther.
The judge will hear motions starting Monday morning. Jury selection is expected to begin on Tuesday, with the trial wrapping up before the end of June.
Officer Goodson first joined the police force in 1999. He remains suspended without pay because these are felony charges.