The trial of William G. Porter, one of six Baltimore police officers charged in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray, is poised to begin Wednesday after a 12-person jury of city residents is seated, according to court officials.
The panel’s selection and each side’s opening statements in the trial will come after two days of jury proceedings Monday and Tuesday, during which Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry G. Williams, prosecutors and defense attorneys questioned members of a 150-person jury pool in an attempt to weed out those deemed biased. The start of the trial in Baltimore also follows months of arguments from defense attorneys that a fair jury cannot possibly be seated in the city, given the high profile of the case and its impact on local residents.
Gray, 25, died from a spinal cord injury suffered in the back of a police transport van after being arrested April 12, prosecutors said. His death a week later sparked widespread protests against police brutality, and his funeral was followed by rioting, looting and arson. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake instituted a weeklong curfew, and Gov. Larry Hogan called in the National Guard. On May 1, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby announced a range of charges against the six officers involved in Gray’s arrest and transport.
Porter has pleaded not guilty to charges of manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment. The other five officers have also pleaded not guilty.
Attorneys for Porter and the other officers have argued that potential city jurors would not only have prior knowledge of the case, but could fear that acquitting the officers would cause more unrest. Prosecutors have said city jurors would have to be questioned to see if they could be fair, and Williams agreed.
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