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Prosecutors clash with detective over testimony at Goodson trial

Defense team from Left- Andrew Graham; Matthew Frailing examining a witness; Officer Caesar Goodson, and Amy Askew. (Courtroom Sketch by Maximilian Franz)

Defense team from Left- Andrew Graham; Matthew Frailing examining a witness; Officer Caesar Goodson, and Amy Askew. (Courtroom Sketch by Maximilian Franz)

Prosecutors traded barbs with a Baltimore Police Department detective Thursday as they accused each other of improper behavior during the investigation and prosecution of officers charged in connection with the death of Freddie Gray.

The defense for Officer Caesar Goodson called Det. Dawnyell Taylor, who participated in the investigation of Gray’s death and was the lead investigator at one point, to testify about conversations investigators had with Dr. Carol Allan.

Taylor testified Allan told police on at least two occasions that the death was an accident. Her official report concluded Gray’s death was a homicide.

“She said it was a freakish accident and no human hands caused the injury,” Taylor said. The discussions took place April 23 and April 29 last year.

Allan denied ever saying the death was an accident when she testified last week.

Taylor was permitted to testify about Allan’s statement after Baltimore City Circuit Judge Barry Williams held the state’s failure to disclose the notes about the conversation — which prosecutors say they just learned about last week — was a discovery violation. Williams allowed the hearsay evidence to be admitted as a remedy.

Taylor also said she attempted to turn over notes reflecting these conversations to Deputy State’s Attorney Janice Bledsoe but Bledsoe refused to accept them and “threw a tantrum.”

On cross examination, Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Michael Schatzow accused Taylor of fabricating the notes from the meeting and “sabotaging the investigation,” adding that he asked that she be removed as chief investigator.

Taylor said she was not removed from the case but it was agreed she would not interact with the State’s Attorney’s Office after the incident with Bledsoe.

“I’m aware you made a request, but you don’t have the authority to remove me from the case,” she said.

Taylor eventually provided the notes to the defense.

Schatzow questioned why none of the other investigators’ notes mention Allan’s comments about the death being an accident, but Taylor said she “made a note of it.”

“When you started having problems with Ms. Bledsoe, you went back and made these notes, didn’t you?” Schatzow asked.

Taylor responded: “My problem with Ms. Bledsoe was with her integrity.”

Defense motion denied

Earlier Thursday, Williams refused a defense request that he dismiss charges against Goodson. The motion was submitted in writing at the close of the state’s case, a deviation from the standard practice of making an oral motion.

Defense attorneys argued that prosecutors failed to prove that Goodson, the van driver, gave Gray a “rough ride” that caused his fatal broken neck.

Prosecutors, who wrapped up their case Wednesday, contended that there was enough evidence to show Goodson had multiple chances to put Gray in a seat belt instead of leaving him handcuffed and shackled on the floor of the van.

Judge Williams said it was a “close call” whether to drop the most serious charge of depraved heart murder but conceded that when viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the state, a reasonable fact finder could render a guilty verdict.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.