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A Baltimore judge will compel Officer William Porter to testify in the trial of the van driver and fellow officer charged in the death of Freddie Gray.
The trial of Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., who drove the van transporting Gray, will remain in Baltimore after Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams also denied a defense motion to move the proceedings. Goodson faces the most serious charge of the six officers accused in Gray's death and has pleaded not guilty.
Gray, 25, a died on April 19, a week after his neck was broken during a ride in the back of a police van. His death and the subsequent unrest in Baltimore brought to the fore long-simmering tensions in the city and across the nation over socioeconomic disparity and the relationship between law enforcement and the minority communities they serve.
On Wednesday, Williams also ruled that jurors would be anonymous but not sequestered.
Porter's lawyers shot up immediately after the judge issued his order and vowed to appeal the order in Annapolis Thursday morning. Porter's case ended in mistrial last month, his retrial begins June 13.
Porter wants to avoid testifying in Goodson's trial and says he'd invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
The judge warned that if the prosecution decides to call Porter in the Goodson trial, Porter has immunity for his testimony. It is unclear whether Porter will actually testify given the potential complication.
The judge wrestled with attorneys on both sides for less than an hour after Porter told the court he plans to invoke his Fifth Amendment right to not testify.
"I find myself in uncharted territory," Judge Williams said at one point before reaching his decision as he mulled over how to handle the unusual legal complication.
"It's novel because officer Porter wears the hat of being a witness, but he's also pending his own trial," said local Baltimore attorney Warren Alperstein, who has been attending the trials of the six officers indicted in the death of Freddie Gray as an outside analyst.
Porter's lawyers plan to appeal the judge's order in Annapolis on Thursday. Jury selection for the Goodson trial is still slated to begin on Monday.