Combative Testimony in Freddie Gray Trial

     BALTIMORE (CN) — A defense witness in the Freddie Gray murder trial shocked the court Thursday as she laid bare a rift between prosecutors and police during the investigation of Gray’s death.
     Dawnyell Taylor had been the lead detective after Gray died on April 19, 2015, of a spinal cord injury sustained during his arrest the week before.
     She took the stand Thursday for Caesar Goodson, the Baltimore police officer who is accused of causing Gray’s injury while driving the 25-year-old to the police station.
     During her testimony, Taylor called into question the integrity of Deputy State’s Attorney Janice Bledsoe, accusing the prosecutor of “throwing a tantrum” during the investigation and refusing to work with her.
     The decision of State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby to charge Goodson and five other Baltimore police officers with Gray’s death drew widespread media coverage, but Taylor said tension between police and prosecutors grew to a fever pitch behind the scenes.
     Although no hard evidence exists that police began a work slowdown following the charges against fellow officers, the acting warden of the Baltimore City Central Booking testified that arrests dropped by more than 10,000 from 42,852 in 2014 to 32,718 in 2015.
     Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Michael Schatzow accused Taylor of attempting to sabotage the investigation. He asked the detective if she was aware that he had requested she be moved from her position on the case.
     Taylor responded that Schatzow did not have the authority to have her removed, and that — although she was not responsible for communicating with the State’s Attorney’s Office — she still held all of the case files and continued in her duties.
     Taylor also recalled two separate occasions in which Assistant Medical Examiner Carol Allen allegedly suggested that Gray’s fatal spinal cord injury was a “freakish accident,” and that “no human hand has done this.”
     Taylor’s testimony flies in the face of Allen’s. The doctor testified last week that “the word accident never crossed my lips, unless it was to say, this was certainly no accident.”
     Schatzow also suggested that Taylor and other top police officials had pushed Allen to rule Gray’s death an accident rather than a homicide.
     Goodson has elected to face a bench trial before Judge Barry Williams, the same jurist who presided over two previous Gray-related trials.
     While the case against Officer William Porter ended with a hung jury and was declared a mistrial last year, Judge Williams acquitted Officer Edward Nero on all charges in May.
     Williams let Taylor testify about Allen’s alleged statements, which would normally be considered hearsay, as part of a “remedy” for the state having violated discovery rules in the case by failing to provide certain evidence to the defense.
     Williams ruled Taylor’s testimony admissible earlier this week.
     The judge barred similar testimony from a different police officer Goodson’s defense team had called to the stand.
     Detective Corey Alston testified previously that he met with Allen on two separate occasions, and that she had made mention as to what the possible causes of death.
     Williams barred Alston from describing the nature of Allen’s comments.
     Goodson, 46, faces the most serious charges of all the officers on Gray’s death.
     Prosecutors rested after calling a total of 21 witness, including expert testimony from Stanford O’Neill Franklin.
     The former Maryland state trooper turned activist had been called to testify as to the state’s theory that Goodson gave Gray a “rough ride,” but Franklin crumbled under cross-examination Wednesday, admitting he did not see any evidence that Goodson had driven erratically.
     Williams denied a motion by the defense for the dismissal of the charges against Goodson at the beginning of Thursday’s proceedings, which will continue with more defense witnesses this afternoon.

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