Police Trials in Freddie Gray Case Stay Put

     BALTIMORE (CN) – Community members celebrated Thursday as a judge refused to let the six police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray move their trials out of Baltimore.
     “The murders happened here in Baltimore, and the trials will be held here in Baltimore,” said C.D. Witherspoon, a protester who lives just a couple blocks from where Gray lived before his death.
     Gray died on April 19 about a week after sustaining a spinal cord injury while being arrested.
     Protests turned violent on the day of Gray’s funeral, April 27, but a curfew implemented by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and the calling up of the National Guard by Gov. Larry Hogan kept the riots to a single day.
     Judge Barry Williams with the Baltimore City Circuit Court said attorneys for the six indicted officers had failed to prove that a fair trial was not available in Baltimore.
     Each side had just 15 minutes to give their argument today before Williams handed down his ruling.
     Charges against the officers range from second-degree depraved-heart murder to second-degree assault. All six have been charged with misconduct in office. The defendants in the case all pleaded not guilty at their May arraignments and are free on bonds.
     The defense said that the $6.4 million settlement between the city and Gray’s family, and abundance of media coverage, would make it impossible to find impartial jurors for the trials. Attorneys for the officers also claimed that fear of future unrest could bias jurors.
     Prosecutors meanwhile called it premature to discuss moving the case before attempting to question potential jurors.
     Judge Williams said that media coverage was ubiquitous and that potential jurors outside the city would access to the same coverage as residents of the city.
     Williams, who previously ruled that each officer should be tried individually, left open the possibility that the trials could be moved if jury selection proves difficult.
     Though the judge said the court will reconvene at 2 p.m. to discuss other issues, it was not immediately clear what those issues are.

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