By Sheryl Estrada
Photo by Shutterstock
Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams denied the request of defense attorneys on Thursday morning to change the venue for thetrials of the six police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray. Their fates will be determined in Baltimore.
Lawyers for the officers argued a fair trial would not be possible in the city as the case has had intense publicity and a jury would be selected from a cross-section of the Baltimore community.
But Williams said the lawyers had “not met their constitutional burden” in proving the jurisdiction needed to be changed.
“The citizens of Baltimore are not monolithic,” he said. “They think for themselves.”
Protestors outside of the courtroom applauded Williams’ ruling. The trials are set to begin as early as next month. However, according to the Baltimore Sun, Williams “left open the possibility that the trials could be moved if an impartial jury panel can’t be found.”
It was just announced on Tuesday by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s office the city of Baltimore board approved a $6.4 million settlement in a separate civil case, which Gray’s family brought against the city. A total of $2.8 million is scheduled to be paid to the family this year; next year, they would receive the remaining $3.6 million.
Gray, a 25-year-old Black man, was arrested and taken into custody by police on April 12. After being placed in a police transport van, the type of injuries he sustained was consistent with a brutal practice called the “rough ride.” He was shackled, handcuffed and not placed in a seat belt. Officers ignored Gray’s request for medical aid. He died a week later from a spinal injury, setting off a week of civil unrest in the city following his funeral.
In a press conference on May 1, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced homicide charges and arrest warrants for the six officers. The chargesinclude second-degree depraved heart murder, assault/second degree, false imprisonment and misconduct. They have all pleaded not guilty.
Last week Williams determined the six officers will have separate trials. He also ruled against defense motions to remove Mosby as prosecutor for the case.