The Latest: Judge to announce van driver verdict Thursday

AP News
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Posted: Jun 20, 2016 1:29 PM

BALTIMORE (AP) — The Latest on the murder trial for a Baltimore officer facing charges stemming from the death of a 25-year-old black man who died after suffering a critical injury in police custody (all times local):

12:30 p.m.

A judge said he'll decide by Thursday morning the fate of the officer facing the most serious charges in the death of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old black man whose broken neck inside a police transport wagon set Baltimore on fire.

Officer Caesar Goodson opted against a jury trial on charges including second-degree murder and manslaughter. Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams will deliver his verdict on Thursday.

Prosecutors say Goodson was criminally negligent for failing to buckle Gray into a seat belt or call a medic. They initially accused Goodson of giving Gray a "rough ride" by driving erratically with the intention of injuring the man, who was wearing handcuffs and leg shackles.

During closing arguments, prosecutors abandoned the theory, but the judge peppered them with questions to determine whether the state still believes Goodson drove wildly in order to slam Gray's body against the wagon's metal walls.

Chief Deputy State's Attorney Michael Schatzow ultimately said that simply driving with an unbuckled but shackled and handcuffed prisoner demonstrates intent to create risk of harm.

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11:55 a.m.

Prosecutors tried one last time to persuade a Baltimore judge to convict a wagon driver of murder in the death of a 25-year-old black detainee whose neck was broken while being taken to the police station.

Officer Caesar Goodson is being tried on charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter in the death of Freddie Gray.

Both sides delivered closing arguments after more than five days of testimony. This is a bench trial, so the judge alone will decide Goodson's fate.

Prosecutors say Goodson "breached his duty" when he failed to buckle Gray into a seat belt or call for a medic, and when he ran a stop sign and made a wide turn during the van's 45-minute ride. It was after that turn that the state alleges Gray suffered his injury.

Initially the state alleged that Goodson gave Gray a "rough ride" with the intention of bouncing the man around and injuring him. But prosecutors during closings made no mention of a rough ride, and Goodson's attorneys accused them of abandoning theories and changing their story.

Defense attorney Matthew Fraling said the state "failed to cobble together any type of case with reasonable inferences, let alone evidence." Goodson's attorneys say that each time officers checked on the prisoner before he arrived at the station, he wasn't showing any sign of medical distress.

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5 a.m.

Closing arguments are scheduled in the trial of a Baltimore police officer charged with murder in the death of a black prisoner whose neck was broken in a transport van.

Attorneys will make their arguments Monday morning in the case against Officer Caesar Goodson, who was the driver of the van.

Prosecutors contend Goodson gave a rough ride to 25-year-old Freddie Gray when he was handcuffed and shackled in the back of the van. Defense attorneys say Goodson did nothing wrong.

Goodson declined to testify on his behalf Friday, when testimony ended on the seventh day of the trial.

Judge Barry Williams is presiding over the bench trial. Prosecutors have yet to win a conviction in the case. Goodson is the third of six officers charged in the case to go to trial.