Protests on the street could be heard inside the fourth-floor Baltimore courtroom where dozens of prospective jurors appeared Monday morning as jury selection began in the case against Officer William Porter, one of six police officers charged in connection with the death of Freddie Gray.
MORE PHOTOS: Outside of Officer William Porter’s trial
More than 70 citizens appeared for jury duty in Baltimore City Circuit Court, and no one in the pool stood when asked if anyone was not familiar with the case, the curfew imposed amid the ensuing unrest, or the $6.4 million settlement reached between the city and Gray’s family.
Porter, represented by Joseph Murtha of Murtha, Psoras & Lanasa LLC in Lutherville and Baltimore solo practitioner Gary E. Proctor, is charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office.
Judge Barry Williams told prospective jurors he expects the trial to begin by midweek and conclude on or about Dec. 17.
Given those dates, and told that only medical proof that they cannot sit for more than 90 minutes at a time or a pre-planned trip would excuse them, 29 people stood to say they are unable to serve.
Williams reiterated he was asking who “cannot” serve, not who didn’t want to.
“If you want to vote or drive, sooner or later you will be called for jury duty,” he said.
Anyone who stood to indicate a response to one of Williams’ questions was then questioned in a conference room adjacent to the courtroom. The questioning behind closed doors took the rest of the day and is expected to resume Tuesday.
A dozen citizens reported some connection to law enforcement — either themselves or an immediate family member — while seven members of the pool said they would give more or less weight to the testimony of a police officer based solely on the fact that the witness was in law enforcement.
More than half of the pool — 38 — said they had been the victim of a crime or investigated, charged, arrested, incarcerated or had pending criminal charges; 26 stood to indicate they had “strong feelings” about the charges involved in the case.
Williams read a list of potential witnesses to the jury, which included more than 100 members of the Baltimore Police Department, members of the local and national media, Porter’s co-defendants and members of the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office, including top prosecutor Marilyn J. Mosby.
A motion to prevent the defense from calling prosecutors as witnesses was denied last week, with Williams saying he would evaluate all potential evidence for materiality and relevance at the appropriate time.