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The six officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray will be tried separately, a Baltimore judge ruled Wednesday.
Gray sustained neck injuries following an April 12 foot chase with police which ended with his being charged with possession of a switchblade and placed into a police van. He sustained neck injuries while riding in the van, and died a week later.
Each of the six officers, Edward Nero, Garrett Miller, William Porter and Goodson, and Lt. Brian Rice and Sgt. Alicia White, face reckless endangerment charges in regards to Gray’s death. Rice, Porter, and White are additionally charged with manslaughter, and Goodson also faces second-degree murder.
During arguments, the judge noted that it was important for the court to consider the different degrees of seriousness for each varying charge. The prosecution argued unsuccessfully that Goodson, Nero, and White be tried together.
Earlier on Wednesday, Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams rejected a motion to dismiss charges against the six police officers in a pre-trial hearing.
The first circuit court hearing began earlier in the day in downtown Baltimore — proceedings which will focus national attention back on the city and racial and socioeconomic tensions at the heart of the friction between local police and the minority communities they serve.
None of the six officers facing charges in the death of Gray appeared in court.
However, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby was present as Williams rejected two motions by the defense: one, to dismiss the charges due to prosecutorial misconduct by Mosby, and another to have Mosby and the State’s Attorney’s office to be recused from the case.
Mosby is a Democrat who comes from a long line of police officers and has been vocal about holding cops accountable in the past.
During arguments, defense attorney Andrew Graham, who is representing officer Goodson, argued that Mosby’s reference to “no justice, no peace” during a May 1st press conference was “essentially a pep rally… to exact vengeance on the six officers by convicting them.”
Prosecutor Michael Schatzow, Mosby’s deputy who also represented her today, responded by arguing that the defense twisted Mosby’s words.
While the judge noted that he found Mosby’s behavior at the press conference “troubling,” he denied the motion to dismiss, citing that such authority rests with a Court of Appeals, not with him.
Williams then rejected the motion to recuse, noting that such a step would be “extreme.” The defense argued that the state’s attorneys had numerous conflicts of interests while investigating Gray’s death, but were unable to persuade Williams.
The judge said the defense’s request to change trial venues is not being considered today, but the court will reconvene this afternoon to hear the defense’s request that the six officers should be tried separately.
Dozens of protesters gathered outside of the courthouse holding up signs that read “Stop racism now” and “Indict, convict, jail.” One protester was arrested.
The scene was different from the days following Gray’s death while in police custody.
His death triggered days of protests and, eventually, unrest in Baltimore, including a night of rioting and looting as residents protested police brutality and expressed frustration over socioeconomic conditions that left many of them feeling disenfranchised. President Barack Obama offered comments connecting the racial tensions in Baltimore at the center of the unrest with similar tensions across the nation.
The president condemned the violent riots and also said the nation needs to "do some soul-searching."