Jury selection for the officer facing the most serious charge for his alleged role in the death of Freddie Gray last April is scheduled to begin Monday, but an appellate order barring the testimony of a key witness may cause difficulties for prosecutors.
Officer Caesar Goodson is charged with second-degree depraved heart murder, involuntary manslaughter, negligent manslaughter by vehicle, criminally negligent manslaughter by vehicle, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office. Second-degree murder is punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
Officer William Porter, whose case ended in a mistrial last month, was set to be called as a witness against Goodson despite his retrial scheduled for June, but a Court of Special Appeals order Friday stays Baltimore City Circuit Judge Barry Williams’ order compelling Porter to testify.
The appellate court is currently reviewing the motion from Porter’s attorneys and the state’s response, which claims an injunction preventing prosecutors from calling him as a witness “irreparably harms the government’s ability to prosecute Goodson for the death of Freddie Gray.”
If Porter cannot be called, “there is no remedy” for the state, according to the response, filed Friday afternoon. If he testifies, Porter would be granted use and derivative use immunity to protect his right against self-incrimination.
Goodson was the driver of the police transport van that picked up Gray following his arrest April 12. The van made several stops before ending up at the Western District police station and Gray was found unresponsive in the back. He would die in the hospital one week later.
Porter testified at his trial he told Goodson that Gray had requested medical attention. Porter also said he recommended Goodson take Gray to the hospital immediately so that he could be medically cleared and accepted to Central Booking.
Other defense witnesses in Porter’s case testified the ultimate responsibility for a passenger in a police van lies with the driver.
Williams last week denied a third request by the defense to move Goodson’s case out of Baltimore, opting instead to attempt to find an impartial jury in the city first, as he did with Porter’s trial.
The case is State v. Caesar Goodson, 115141032. The appellate case is State v. Officer Caesar Goodson, 2308/15.
State of Maryland v. Officer Caesar R. Goodson
Officer Caesar Goodson
Charges: second-degree depraved heart murder, involuntary manslaughter, negligent manslaughter by vehicle, criminally negligent manslaughter by vehicle, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, misconduct in office
Alleged role: Goodson drove the police van that picked up Gray after his arrest and stopped several times before ending up at the Western District station where Gray was discovered unresponsive. Prosecutors alleged that Goodson did not secure Gray with a seat belt before driving and failed to get prompt medical attention for Gray when he requested it.
Andrew Jay Graham and Amy Askew, Kramon & Graham P.A. in Baltimore
Matthew B. Fraling III, Harris, Jones & Malone LLC in Baltimore
Michael Schatzow, Chief Deputy State’s Attorney
Janice Bledsoe, Deputy State’s Attorney of Criminal Intelligence
Upcoming trial dates:
Sgt. Alicia White — Feb. 8
Officer Edward Nero — Feb. 22
Officer Garrett Miller — March 7
Lt. Brian Rice — March 9
Officer William Porter (retrial) — June 13