The Latest: Defense disappointed with judge's ruling

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Posted: Sep 10, 2015 4:38 PM
The Latest: Defense disappointed with judge's ruling

BALTIMORE (AP) — The latest on a pretrial hearing in the prosecution of six Baltimore police officers charged in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who died after suffering a spinal injury in custody (all times local):

4:30 p.m.

An attorney for one of the six officers charged in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray says they are disappointed that a judge has decided their trials should be held in Baltimore.

Ivan Bates, an attorney for Sgt. Alicia White, spoke on behalf of all the defense attorneys. Bates says prosecutors have painted a very inaccurate picture of what happened to Gray and "distorted" where his injuries occurred.

Prosecutors have said Gray was critically injured when he was handcuffed, shackled at the legs and placed in the back of a police van. He died a week later.

Bates says he wants city residents to be patient and believes they will come to understand that each of the officers reacted the way any reasonable officer would have if they were confronted with the same situation.

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3:50 p.m.

A pretrial hearing for six Baltimore police officers charged in connection with the death of Freddie Gray is over.

The hearing ended Thursday afternoon after Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams denied defense requests to subpoena certain documents and files from the state's attorney's office. Williams found the requests overly broad.

They included a request for police academy training materials.

Defense attorneys lost another fight earlier Thursday when Williams denied their motion to move the six trials out of Baltimore. Williams said it would be nearly impossible to find a place not inundated by news about the case.

Gray was a 25-year-old black man fatally injured in police custody in April.

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A Baltimore pastor who was arrested while protesting last week during a pre-trial hearing in the Freddie Gray case says the charges against him are excessive and show that police still have an adversarial relationship with protesters.

The Rev. Westley West has been charged with attempting to incite a riot, among other offenses. He was released from custody Thursday on his own recognizance.

West was arrested Wednesday night at his church for an incident that occurred Sept. 2.

He says the timing of the arrest was strange because it came the day before protesters were scheduled to gather again outside the Baltimore courthouse. A judge ruled Thursday that the six officers charged in Gray's death will be tried in Baltimore.

Police say they recorded West stepping in front of a pickup truck and hitting the hood with a bullhorn. West said the truck hit him and he plans to press charges against the driver.

He says all his protesting has been peaceful.

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2:30 p.m.

Baltimore's police commissioner talked to protesters while a hearing was held for six officers charged in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray.

Commissioner Kevin Davis said he wanted to personally see that the protesters were able to demonstrate outside the courthouse.

"I hope you realize I'm out here because I want to be part of the solution," Davis told one protester, as the two talked in front of the courthouse.

Some protesters chanted: "Commissioner, go home."

Davis said he knows people are frustrated, but he would rather have protesters tell him to go home than wonder where he was.

Gray died after suffering a fatal spine injury in police custody.

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2:05 p.m.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake says the judge who denied a change of venue for six officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray made the right decision and that having their trials in Baltimore will help the city heal.

Rawlings-Blake and Police Commissioner Kevin Davis thanked protesters for remaining peaceful on Thursday. They said officers have the proper training and equipment to respond appropriately should more unrest break out as it did following Gray's death in April.

Gray was critically injured while in police custody and died a week later.

Davis says he has met with the leaders of two protest groups. He says police and protesters have the same goal: to ensure they have the opportunity to make their voices heard without breaking any laws.

Rawlings-Blake says there's no estimate of how much the trials will cost the city but she says the city has the flexibility to respond as needed.

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1:10 p.m.

An attorney for the family of Freddie Gray is applauding a decision by a judge to keep the trials for six officers charged in Gray's case in Baltimore.

Attorney Billy Murphy said Thursday that it would be "an insult to our citizens to think there aren't 12 open-minded people who would base their decisions on the evidence and the law."

Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams dismissed arguments from the officers' attorneys, who said the days of riots, protests and citywide curfews would make it difficult to choose unbiased jurors in the city.

The defense also said the city's $6.4 million settlement with Gray's family sent a message that the officers were guilty, but the judge said the settlement doesn't affect the criminal trials.

Gray died after suffering a fatal spinal injury in police custody.

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12:25 p.m.

A judge has ruled to keep the trials of six officers over the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, but he noted he would hear motions later if necessary.

Judge Barry Williams ruled Thursday that the trials wouldn't be moved to another jurisdiction. Gray died in Baltimore in April, a week after suffering a spinal injury during an arrest. The death sparked protests and riots, and received widespread attention.

As he ruled, Williams said that later, he would "entertain any appropriate motions if necessary" — reserving his option to revisit the matter.

University of Maryland law professor Andrew Levy says the defense might raise the issue later while questioning potential jurors, who may fear for their safety in the event of an acquittal.

Levy says: "It's not just the concern that they've already formed an opinion in the case. In a way, they have a vested interest in the outcome."

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11:40 a.m.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Interim Police Commissioner Kevin Davis will hold a press conference to discuss the trial of the six police officers charged in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray.

The officials are set to discuss at 1 p.m. the city's preparation as the trials move forward.

The announcement of their news conference came moments after a judge ruled the officers' trials will stay in Baltimore.

The officers' attorneys had argued that there was too much pretrial publicity in the city to hold a fair trial there.

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11:35 a.m.

A judge who has ruled to keep the trial of six officers over the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore says the defense didn't meet its burden to show that a fair and impartial trial could not be held in the city.

When he ruled Thursday, Judge Barry Williams said he thinks city residents understand the importance of jury selection and can think on their own. He says prospective jurors can be questioned about whether public statements swayed them.

On the influence of media on the case, Williams says "information is ubiquitous" and the case got worldwide attention.

He says: "Where does one find a jurisdiction not so permeated with publicity?"

Williams also says the city's $6.4 million settlement with Gray's family doesn't affect criminal proceedings.

Gray suffered a spinal injury during his April arrest and died a week later.

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11:10 a.m.

A judge has ruled that the trials of six Baltimore police officers charged in connection with the death of Freddie Gray will be kept in Baltimore.

Judge Barry Williams ruled Thursday, saying the officers could get fair trials in Baltimore despite days of protests, rioting and a weeklong citywide curfew after Gray's death.

Gray died in April after he was critically injured in police custody.

Protesters cheered outside the courthouse. "The trial stays here," they said repeatedly.

Attorneys for the officers had argued that a million-dollar settlement the city reached with the Gray family sways jurors, along with other pre-trial publicity.

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10:40 a.m.

A spokeswoman for the Baltimore City Sheriff's Office says a protester was arrested outside the courthouse where a judge is hearing arguments in the case of six officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray.

Major Sabrina Tapp-Harper of the sheriff's office says 24-year-old Ryan Arrendell was charged with failure to obey a lawful order. Tapp-Harper says the woman refused to leave the sidewalk in front of the courthouse and go to an area designated for peaceful protest.

Arrendell was taken to the city's booking center.

The protesters gathered Thursday morning to voice their opinions that the officers charged in Gray's death should not be tried outside Baltimore. The officers' lawyers are arguing for a change of venue. Arrendell was the first protester on the scene.

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This item has been corrected to show that the spelling of the protester's last name is Arrendell, not Arrenbell.

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10:35 a.m.

Prosecutors say the trials for six officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray shouldn't be moved out of Baltimore before an attempt has been made to seat a jury.

Chief Deputy State's Attorney Michael Schatzow told Judge Barry Williams on Thursday that the only circumstances under which a change of venue is appropriate is in "a small community where you have an armed lynch mob at the door."

Schatzow calls the notion that Baltimore residents can't be fair "insulting."

Schatzow also says the riots after Gray's death weren't widespread enough to affect all residents.

Schatzow dismissed defense arguments that rioting and media coverage will taint the jury pool, adding that high-profile cases such as the D.C. sniper and the Boston Marathon bomber were not moved to different jurisdictions.

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10:10 a.m.

Lawyers for six Baltimore police officers charged in connection with Freddie Gray's death say the city's $6.4 million settlement with Gray's family is one reason the trials should be held elsewhere.

Attorney Ivan Bates, representing Sgt. Alicia White, argued on behalf of all six officers as the hearing began Thursday in Baltimore City Circuit Court.

Bates told Judge Barry Williams the settlement announced on Tuesday sends a message to prospective jurors that "these officers are guilty, and if they are not guilty, why are we paying them $6.4 million?"

Bates also says public comments by State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby make it impossible to find impartial jurors. He says she aligned herself with protesters, effectively convicting the officers before trial.

Gray died in April after suffering an injury in police custody.

Prosecutors will present arguments for why the trials should stay in Baltimore.

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9:45 a.m.

Sheriff's deputies have arrested a protester outside a Baltimore courthouse where a judge is to hear arguments about moving the trials of six city police officers charged in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray.

Shortly before the hearing was to begin at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in Baltimore Circuit Court, more deputies appeared outside the courthouse. Some had multiple plastic strips, used as handcuffs, clipped to their vests.

Deputies formed a line and several surrounded one woman with a sign and a knapsack on the sidewalk in front of the courthouse. She had been the first demonstrator on the scene Thursday morning. Her sign said the trials should remain in Baltimore because, "They didn't bother to kill him elsewhere."

After deputies took her into the courthouse, her sign was behind a garbage can by the courthouse door.

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9:30 a.m.

About 20 protesters have gathered in front of the downtown courthouse as a hearing starts for six officers charged in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray.

The hearing is over whether the officers' trials should be held in Baltimore or moved out of town.

The demonstrators chanted: "It happened here. It has to stay here." Many of them were at the courthouse last week for a similar rally when a judge decided the six officers would be tried separately.

This time, with rain threatening, there weren't as many protesters at a morning rally. Sheriff's deputies stood nearby in a line.

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9:10 a.m.

"Keep it here" is the chant of demonstrators outside a Baltimore courthouse where a judge will hear arguments about the trial location for six police officers charged in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray.

Defense attorneys have argued in pretrial motions that the officers can't get a fair and impartial trial in the city because of publicity about the case and because city residents were subject to a curfew in the spring after rioting broke out in the wake of Gray's April 19 death.

The Baltimore People's Power Assembly staged a small demonstration Thursday morning before the start of Thursday's pretrial hearing. Protesters carried signs saying, "Black Lives Matter" and seeking "Jobs & Education, Not Police Terror."

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9 a.m.

A judge is limiting the time for arguments in a pretrial hearing for six Baltimore police officers charged in connection with the death of Freddie Gray.

Each side will get 15 minutes Thursday to make their arguments about where the trials should be held.

Circuit Judge Barry Williams is hearing arguments on defense motions asserting the officers cannot get fair trials in Baltimore due heavy pretrial publicity and the effect on potential jurors of a citywide curfew after rioting in April.

Prosecutors say the trials should be held in Baltimore.

Gray was a 25-year-old black man who died in April, a week after suffering a critical spinal injury in police custody.

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8 a.m.

The first protester showed up around 8 a.m. Thursday outside Baltimore Circuit Court, where a pretrial hearing in the Freddie Gray case is planned.

The woman carried a sign urging that the trials of six city police officers charged in Gray's arrest and death remain in Baltimore.

"They didn't bother to kill him elsewhere," the sign read.

Judge Barry Williams will hear arguments Thursday morning by attorneys for the officers to consider a change of venue. Defense attorneys have argued in court filings that pre-trial publicity means the officers can't fair and impartial trial in Baltimore.

Gray suffered a spinal injury during his arrest in April in West Baltimore and died a week later.

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6:45 a.m.

A Baltimore pastor has been arrested a week after police say he blocked traffic while protesting during pre-trial hearings in the Freddie Gray case.

Police say they arrested 27-year-old Westley West on Wednesday after obtaining a warrant charging him with attempting to incite a riot, malicious destruction of property, disorderly conduct, disturbance of the peace, false imprisonment and failure to obey.

Online court records show West is charged with walking on a road where a sidewalk is provided, but don't list a lawyer.

Police say they recorded West, the pastor at Faith Empowered Ministries, stepping in front of a pickup truck and hitting the hood with his bullhorn. Others joined West blocking traffic, but fled when officers approached.

The arrest came a day before another pre-trial hearing for six officers charged in the death of Gray, a 25-year-old black man fatally injured in police custody.