Famed defense attorney and legal scholar Alan Dershowitz had harsh words for Maryland state attorney Marilyn Mosby, who on Friday announced stiff charges against six Baltimore police officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray.
“This is a show trial,” Dershowitz said during an interview Friday with Newsmax TV’s Steve Malzberg.
“Today had nothing to do with justice. Today was crowd control. Everything today was motivated by a threat of riots and a desire to prevent riots.”
Mosby, who at 35 is the youngest state’s attorney of a major city in the U.S., slapped the six officers with charges ranging from misconduct to involuntary manslaughter to second-degree depraved-heart murder.
Mosby’s charging announcement came at the tail end of a chaotic week in Baltimore. On Monday, rioters and looters hit the streets just after Gray’s funeral and destroyed parts of the city.
Officer Caesar Goodson Jr. was hit with the worst charges. He was the driver of the police van that picked Gray up at the scene of his arrest. Mosby maintains that Gray, 25, was illegally arrested on April 12. She said that officers failed to properly restrain him in the police van and that they did not give him medical attention even though he asked for it several times. He died on April 19. Mosby said the medical examiner determined Gray’s neck was broken and ruled his death a homicide.
Dershowitz said that none of the evidence presented so far by Mosby and through the media warrants a second-degree murder charge against Goodson Jr.
“There’s no plausible, hypothetical, conceivable case for murder under the facts as we now know them,” Dershowitz said.
“You might say that conceivably there’s a case for manslaughter. Plainly nobody wanted this guy to die. Nobody set out to kill him. Nobody intentionally murdered him.”
Four officers, including Goodson Jr., face involuntary manslaughter and second-degree assault charges.
The two other officers, both of whom were involved in Gray’s initial arrest, face second-degree assault, false imprisonment, and misconduct charges.
Dershowitz said that the “worst-case scenario” for the defendants would be an involuntary manslaughter charge or something related to reckless disregard. (RELATED: Law Professor: Baltimore Officers Were Overcharged, Charges Will Likely Be Dismissed)
He also said that the because of the attention the Gray case has received, the six defendants “are presumed guilty.”
“The mayor and the state attorney have made it virtually impossible for these defendants to get a fair trial,” Dershowitz said.
He added that the officers will probably file for a motion to change the venue of the trial and will ask for Mosby to recuse herself from the case. Allegations of a conflict of interest have surfaced. Mosby’s husband, Nick Mosby, is a city councilman who represents the district where Gray was arrested. Mosby also received $5,000 during her state attorney campaign last year from Billy Murphy Jr., an attorney who represents the Gray family. Mosby appointed Murphy Jr. to her transition team, though she has denied that any conflict of interest exists.
“My prediction,” Dershowitz offered, “I think they’ve overplayed their hand, I think it’s unlikely they’ll get any convictions in this case as a result of this. And if they do there’s a good possibility it will be reversed on appeal. And we’ll just postpone the riots until months ahead.”
Dershowitz compared the case against the six officers to that against George Zimmerman in Florida.
Dershowitz made waves after Florida state attorney Angela Corey announced second-degree murder charges against Zimmerman, who shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Feb. 2012.
Dershowitz accused Corey of overcharging Zimmerman. He also said that she should be disbarred for what he claimed was unethical behavior. Zimmerman claimed self-defense and was acquitted in July 2013.