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Baltimore Officer Facing Most Serious Charges in Freddie Gray Case Chooses Bench Trial

June 06, 2016  | 

Baltimore Police Officer Caesar Goodson Jr. faces the most serious charges in the Freddie Gray case. (Photo: Booking Photo)
Baltimore Police Officer Caesar Goodson Jr. faces the most serious charges in the Freddie Gray case. (Photo: Booking Photo)

Baltimore Police Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., the driver of the van in which Freddie Gray reportedly suffered a fatal spinal cord injury, will proceed to trial Thursday before a judge, rather than a jury.

Goodson is the second officer in a row to elect a bench trial in the case. Officer Edward Nero was acquitted of all charges by Circuit Judge Barry G. Williams last month.

Legal experts said Goodson's decision, which came during a pre-trial motions hearing in a downtown courthouse on Monday, may have been made easier by Nero's acquittal, but also noted the two officers' cases are distinct and that a bench trial comes with its own risks.

"On the one hand, Officer Goodson is putting all of his eggs in one basket in having Judge Williams making the decision," said Warren Alperstein, a Baltimore defense attorney who is not involved in the case. "On the other hand, Judge Williams certainly has demonstrated in Nero's trial that he is able to hear the evidence, apply the law and ultimately make a decision that may not be popular."

Goodson, 46, faces the most serious charges of the six Baltimore police officers charged in Gray's arrest and death. That includes what's known as depraved-heart murder — a second-degree felony charge that carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. He also faces three counts of manslaughter and charges of second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment, the Baltimore Sun reports.

Gray, 25, died in April 2015, a week after being placed in the van with handcuffs and shackles but reportedly no seat belt. His death sparked widespread protests, and his funeral was followed by rioting, looting and arson.

Comments (2)

Displaying 1 - 2 of 2

kevcopAz @ 6/7/2016 6:47 AM

Good move Officer. You have to hand it to this Judge so far he has followed the Law and seems not to let other issues complicate the facts and truth of the case. Im sure he is getting pressure form the "other side" (political correct folks to whom facts do not matter) yet he stands strong. Thank you your honor.

Leonard Mather @ 6/23/2016 7:15 PM

There is ample evidence exculpating officer Goodson about the "Rough Ride" charges and implications. It goes all the way back to Teddy Roosevelt's ROUGH RIDERS. Not a single one of them died because of their Rough Riding. Case Closed. It is now Marilyn Mosby who is having her own rough ride and it is of her own making. Let us hope that what emerges from this event is a focus on personal responsibility and dedication to the LAW instead of the misperceptions of onlookers confused by post hoc ergo propter hoc logical errors.

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