BALTIMORE (WJZ) — After more than five hours, lawyers selected a jury in one of the largest police corruption cases in Baltimore City history.
Nine women and three men will decide the fate of Detectives Marcus Taylor and Daniel Hersl, who were part of the Baltimore Police Department’s elite Gun Trace Task Force. Federal prosecutors allege officers in the specialized unit went rogue — robbing people, dealing drugs, then trying to cover it all up. There are four alternate jurors.
Moments after the jury was selected, Hersl’s brother, Steve Hersl, told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren: “Prayers and support for Danny. We love him, and we miss him.” Members of the Hersl family have been vocal since the indictment, claiming the veteran officer is innocent.
Both Hersl and Taylor wore suits and sat at opposite ends of an L-shaped table in the large ceremonial courtroom on the first floor of Baltimore City’s federal courthouse.
Opening statements in the case are scheduled for Tuesday morning, and the trial is expected to last three to four weeks.
Hersl and Taylor are the only two officers fighting the charges. Six others have entered guilty pleas, and four are expected to testify for the prosecution.
Hersl’s lawyer, William Purpura, said he felt “confident” leaving court Monday night. Both defendants face charges that could put them in prison for 20 years or more, including using a firearm in the commission of a crime, robbery and racketeering conspiracy.
Authorities arrested the officers in March 2017, but questions persist about why they were allowed to operate as a rogue unit for years.
The scandal has also jeopardized more than 100 prosecutions in which the officers were the primary witnesses.
A Philadelphia officer who used to work in Baltimore is also facing charges in the case.
Only around a quarter of the prospective jurors had even heard of the scandal, when questioned by Judge Catherine Blake.