A technical legal argument could decide the fate of the Baltimore officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray.
The case’s prosecution is trying to delay the trials of three cops, but the officers are fighting back, arguing they have rights to fair and speedy trials, the Associated Press reports. Court documents that became public Tuesday, show Officers Edward Nero and Garrett Miller as well as police Lt. Brian Rice are trying to stop the state’s plan to overturn a previous ruling that Officer William Porter could not be forced to testify against the other officers.
Circuit Judge Barry Williams ruled Jan. 20 that the prosecution could not compel Porter to testify since he was pleading the Fifth Amendment. Porter was the first officer tried, but his case ended with a hung jury. He will be retried, and is still able to plead the Fifth and not testify because he has pending charges against him. The prosecution hoped to convict Porter and then use his testimony against the other cops, but the hung jury threw a wrench in their plan.
The state has asked the judge to wait for the appellate court to rule whether Porter can be forced to testify. The defense claims the decision cannot be legally appealed and is just a ploy to delay the trails of the other officers until Porter’s case is tried — at that point, he could likely be compelled to testify.
As of now, all the officers are pleading the Fifth Amendment, but a convicted officer could be pressured to testify. Since Porter, who is black, is not convicted and still could be retried, he can’t legally be required to testify and will likely continue to plead the Fifth.
It appears that the prosecution wants to delay the other trials until this is resolved.
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