The trial of the second of the so-called Baltimore 6 has been delayed, according to news reports. The Baltimore Sun said the trial of Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., one of six Baltimore cops indicted in the death of Freddie Gray, was supposed to start this morning, but was delayed by last-minute legal filings.
Reuters reported the Court of Special Appeals in Annapolis ordered the trial delayed until they could decide if Officer William Porter can be compelled to testify against Goodson and another officer. Porter was the first of the Baltimore 6 to be tried. His case ended in a mistrial. The Sun reported he is set to be retried in June.
All six trials are being presided over by Circuit Judge Barry G. Williams. He briefly took the bench Monday, noted the appeal court’s stay and put the Goodson trial in recess.
The Goodson trial cannot go forward until Porter’s appeal is resolved. The prosecution has described Porter as a “material witness” against Goodson and Sgt. Alicia White, another officer charged in Gray’s death.
Last April, Gray was arrested, placed in the back of a police van and left unsecured. The van was driven at high speed and made frequent sudden stops. Gray suffered spinal cord damage and died a week after his arrest. His death led to citywide rioting, which was only quelled after Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan called out the National Guard.
According to Reuters, Goodson, the driver of the van, faces the most serious charges. He has been charged with depraved heart murder, three counts of assault and reckless endangerment. (In Maryland, depraved heart murder is defined as a killing done with extreme disregard for human life.) If convicted, he faces up to 30 years in jail.
Prosecutors accused Porter of failing to call for a medic when he saw Gray was ailing. He was charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree manslaughter, reckless endangerment and misconduct in an officer, according to KTLA 5. CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said Porter could be a key witness in the trials of the other five officers.
“A hung jury is a defeat for the prosecution, especially when they needed Porter to make some of these other cases,” Toobin said. “Now, it’s not impossible that at least some of these other cases can go to trial without Porter, but his testimony was going to be important.”
According to The Sun, Porter’s attorneys were reluctant to let him testify.
“The Fifth Amendment creates a privilege against compelled disclosures that could implicate a witness in criminal activity and thus subject him or her to criminal prosecution,” Porter’s attorneys wrote.