New developments in the Freddie Gray trials in Baltimore City may have a major impact on the case.
The Baltimore Sun reports a memo was sent to prosecutors notifying them that Lisa Phelps, a veteran assistant State’s Attorney, and Sarah David, who joined the office in 2014, were selected to be part of what is called a “clean team,” in “charge of prosecuting the cases of two officers charged in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray who have been compelled to testify against Officer Edward Nero at his trial.”
Prosecutors will have to prove William Porter and Garrett Miller did not allow any other officers’ testimony to influence the cases they present against them, reports The Sun:
Two officers charged in the case — William G. Porter and Garrett Miller — have been ordered to testify under immunity against their fellow officers, and prosecutors will have to prove that they did not allow any of those officers’ testimony to influence the cases they present against them.
That means removing the current prosecutors, who have handled the case since its inception, and installing a new team that has been instructed to avoid details of Nero’s trial. The email, the sources said, instructs other prosecutors in the office not to speak to the attorneys about the case.
The state’s attorney’s office declined to comment due to a gag order in the case.
Edward Nero, one of six Baltimore police officers charged in Gray’s death, has elected to have a bench trial instead of a jury trial. The proceedings are scheduled to begin Thursday morning.
As one of the arresting officers in the Freddie Gray trials, Nero was indicted on misdemeanor charges of second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, and two counts of misconduct in office.
On Wednesday, Gray family attorney William “Billy” Murphy joined guest host Dr. Wilmer Leon on NewsOne Now to discuss the latest developments in the Gray case.
When asked his thoughts about the “last-minute prosecution team change-up,” Murphy said, “When Porter testifies — if in fact, he testifies — it has to be ascertained that nobody has been exposed to anything which will violate the Fifth Amendment, so that this trial can proceed without being tainted by anything that was said before.”
Murphy said this change was done to prevent a Fifth Amendment violation.
“It’s almost impossible to prove that Porter’s testimony has been un-tainted by a Fifth Amendment violation,” Murphy said.
Leon also asked Murphy why former Officer Nero decided to request a bench trial in lieu of a trial by a jury of his peers. “He fears having a jury decide this case compared to having a judge,” Murphy replied. “What people missed the last time was that according to a juror who finally talked about the deliberations — Officer Porter was two jurors away from being convicted unanimously of misconduct in office.”
“It was reportedly ten to two split in favor of conviction — misconduct in office carries a life sentence as a possible maximum sentence,” said Murphy.
The Gray family attorney said the “emphasis of the coverage in the last trial was that he had been almost acquitted of the most serious charge.”
Murphy equated former officer Nero’s decision to request a bench trial as the difference between “choosing the devil that you know and the devil that you don’t.”
Watch guest host Dr. Wilmer Leon, Gray family attorney William “Billy” Murphy, and the NewsOne Now panel discuss the latest developments in the Freddie Gray case in the video clip above.
Subscribe to the “NewsOne Now” Audio Podcast on iTunes.
Source: The Baltimore Sun | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty