Judge, no Jury, in Freddie Gray Murder Trial

     BALTIMORE (CN) — The only police officer facing a murder charge in connection to the death of Freddie Gray waived his right to a jury trial Monday.
     Caesar Goodson Jr. set the pieces for a bench trial in motion this morning after such proceedings worked in the favor of fellow officer Edward Nero last month.
     Nero, the second of six officers to go on trial for Gray’s death, was acquitted of assault by Judge Barry Williams.
     A jury deadlocked in the first trial, which involved a manslaughter charge against officer William Porter.
     Goodson faces the most severe charges of all six indicted officers, accused of depraved heart murder, three counts of manslaughter and charges of second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment. His trial is scheduled to begin Thursday.
     Goodson, 46, had been driving the van in which 25-year-old Gray sustained a severe spinal cord injury that led to his death a week later.
     Though police put Gray’s hands in cuffs behind his back and had his legs shackled, they did not secure him in the van with a seatbelt while transporting him to central booking.
     Gray died on April 19, and protests after the funeral devolved into a single day of rioting.
     Goodson is the only officer involved in Gray’s arrest who did not provide a recorded statement to police during the investigation. The depraved-heart murder charge he faces is a second-degree felony that carries a maximum 30-year prison sentence.
     The officer’s attorney took aim in court this morning at testimony that could damage his client.
     At Porter’s trial last year, a detective who has not been charged in Gray’s death testified about a phone conversation she said had with Porter about Gray’s arrest.
     Porter allegedly told detective Syreeta Teel that Gray had said “I can’t breathe” at one of the six stops made on the way to the police station where Gray was found unresponsive.
     With Porter denying that statement himself, and no recording of it to prove otherwise, Goodson’s attorney challenged the remark as hearsay.
     Williams ruled the statement inadmissible for Goodson’s trial.
     Goodson was less successful at blocking portions of the autopsy report by assistant medical examiner Carol Allan, who ruled Gray’s death a homicide.
     Williams likewise denied defense motions to dismiss the case for violating Goodson’s right to a speedy trial and on the claim that prosecutors had not fully outlined the alleged acts that constituted the crimes charged.
     Porter, the officer whose trial ended in a hung jury, is scheduled for retrial in September.
     Williams acquitted officer Nero of four misdemeanor charges related to Gray’s arrest last month.

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