BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The defense has rested in the trial of Officer Caesar Goodson Junior.
Goodson is the Baltimore police officer facing the most serious charges in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray. In addition to murder, Goodson faces misconduct, manslaughter, reckless endangerment and assault charges.
Officer Caesar Goodson never took the stand at his trial to confront the charge he murdered Freddie Gray.
“I think any defendant who’s accused of murder has to be worried,” said Warren Alperstein, lawyer and courtroom observer.
His defense called a surprise final witness — fellow Officer Edward Nero — who was acquitted in the same case last month. Officer Nero said Gray was uncooperative and wildly shook the police van, supporting the defense contention he was too much of a risk to secure the seat belt.
“It was one opportunity for the defense to establish that Mr. Gray was being non-cooperative,” said David Jaros, University of Baltimore School of Law.
Prosecutors allege Officer Goodson gave Gray a rough ride when he failed to stop at a stop sign as he drove Gray through West Baltimore, causing the spinal cord injuries that killed him. They say Goodson knew Gray needed to go to the hospital, but did nothing to help him.
But the judge, who alone is deciding Goodson’s fate, already expressed doubt over whether the evidence supports murder.
“The prosecution has decided early on that we’re going to prosecute and attempted to make the evidence fit,” said Warren Brown, lawyer and courtroom observer.
The judge rejected the defense bid to allow into evidence the deputy state’s attorney’s comments that Goodson did not have custody of Gray — comments he made during the closing arguments in Officer Nero’s trial.
“There has not been a conviction of a police officer in our city for crimes committed in the line of duty for the past 20 years,” said Doug Colbert, University of Maryland law professor.
A verdict is expected by the middle of next week.
Closing statements will take place at the courthouse on Monday morning.