By Ian Simpson
(Reuters) - A Maryland appeals court on Tuesday set March 4 for arguments over whether a Baltimore police officer charged in the death of a black detainee must testify against a colleague accused of murder in the same case.
The scheduling by the Maryland Court of Special Appeals could disrupt the months-long timetable for six Baltimore officers facing trial for the death of Freddie Gray in April. His death from a broken neck suffered in a police van triggered protests and rioting and fed a U.S. debate on race and policing.
The appeals court on Monday ordered a delay in the trial of Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., the van's driver, while it determines whether Officer William Porter should be compelled to testify against him and Sergeant Alicia White.
Goodson, 46, is charged with second-degree depraved heart murder, the most serious accusation raised in Gray's death. Porter's trial on involuntary manslaughter and other charges ended in a hung jury last month, and a retrial is set for June.
Prosecutors want Porter as a witness against Goodson and White. Porter's lawyers appealed Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams' ruling last week that forced Porter to testify since he had been offered immunity from prosecution for what he might say on the stand.
Goodson's trial had been scheduled to begin on Monday, and White's is set to start on Feb. 8. The appeals court order also set deadlines for both sides to file motions.
(Editing by Cynthia Osterman)