Baltimore officers request change of venue for trial

Six Baltimore police officers charged following the death of Freddie Grey file a joint motion to move their case out of Baltimore City due to concerns they may not receive a fair trial

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The attorneys representing the six Baltimore police officers indicted in the death of Freddie Gray, a man who suffered a fatal spinal injury while in police custody, have filed a motion Wednesday for a change of venue, arguing the officers “cannot receive a fair and impartial trial in Baltimore City.”

In a 85-page motion filed in Circuit Court in Baltimore City, the lawyers posited that “Every citizen of Baltimore was impacted by the events surrounding the arrest and death of Freddie Gray” and claimed “every potential juror would bring their passions and prejudices relating to the events with them to the courtroom.”

Officers Caesar Goodson Jr., William Porter, Brian Rice, Edward Nero, Garrett Miller and Alicia White were indicted by a grand jury in Baltimore on May 21 and are charged with offenses ranging from second degree “depraved heart” murder to misconduct in office.

Freddie Gray died on April 19, a week after his arrest on suspicion of possession of an illegal knife. His death sparked a wave of protests which on occasion turned violent. A curfew was imposed in Baltimore City and the National Guard was brought in.

The defense attorneys said Baltimore under curfew resembled “Baghdad and Kabul in its appearance” and that the jurors “watched on the news (or in person) their community burning, vehicles being smashed and set on fire, riots erupting around the city, businesses being vandalised and looted.”

They also pointed out that “every time a decision … had to be made, a large demonstration was scheduled outside of the applicable venue.” It would be “unfair and wholly improper” to compel Baltimore residents to serve as jurors with such a “spectacle” underway, they claimed.

The officers’ lawyers also asserted that State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby - who they seek to remove from the case - has made “some of the most egregiously prejudicial public statements,” while taking sides and continuing to “enjoy the spotlight.”

Officials from Baltimore City have not yet responded to the motion.

TRTWorld and agencies