A Maryland appeals court today postponed the trial of Baltimore officer Caesar R. Goodson Jr., the police van driver charged in the death of Freddie Gray, until a decision is made over whether one of his fellow officers can testify against him.
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Goodson is the second officer to go on trial in the case of Gray, who died in April after suffering a spinal injury while in police custody. He is the only one of six officers charged in Gray's death not to speak to police investigators. Goodson’s trial, when it takes place, will offer the public its first chance to hear his side of the story.
Jury selection for Goodson’s trial had been scheduled to start this morning, but the appeals court ordered the delay while it determines whether Officer William Porter should be compelled to testify.
Porter was the first of six officers to go on trial in connection to Gray’s death, but his case ended in a mistrial last month after the jury could not render a verdict. Prosecutors say Porter is a key witness in the Goodson case and the trial judge, Barry Williams, ruled last week that he will have to testify despite Porter’s argument that doing so would violate his right to not incriminate himself.
The appeals court is weighing whether Porter can be forced to testify.
Chief Judge Peter Krauser wrote in a ruling today for the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland that "it is presumably in the interests of all parties" that Porter's appeal is settled before Goodson's trial begins.
Goodson faces the most serious charges of the six officers charged in Gray’s death: second-degree "depraved-heart" murder, which carries a sentence of up to 30 years in prison. Prosecutors argue Goodson should be held accountable for Gray's fatal injuries because he and other officers failed to strap him in and did not call an ambulance when Gray indicated he needed medical assistance.
Goodson, they say, bears the most responsibility because as the van driver, Gray was technically in his custody.
Goodson and Porter have pleaded not guilty.