- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 19, 2015

BALTIMORE (AP) - Baltimore’s top prosecutor has filed a blistering response to conflict of interest allegations raised by lawyers for six police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray.

The defense lawyers asked that a judge replace State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby with an independent prosecutor to handle the case. They accused her of charging the officers with baseless crimes to prevent more rioting in the district represented by her husband, a city councilman. And they say she’s too close to an attorney for Gray’s family.

Mosby’s response, made available on Tuesday, describes the officers’ motion as bouncing “from one ridiculous allegation to another, like a pinball on a machine far past ‘TILT.”

“Whether born of desperation, the desire for publicity, or a gross effort to taint the grand jury and potential petit jury pool, the motion is absurd,” writes Mosby’s chief deputy, Michael Schatzow.

The defense argued that Mosby hastily charged the officers to quash protests that gave way to violence in West Baltimore, where Gray was arrested and where Mosby’s husband, Nick Mosby, is a city councilman. Gray ran from police before his arrest on April 12, and died a week later of a spinal injury he suffered before he arrived at the police station. The unrest began after days of peaceful protests.

Schatzow dismissed this defense claim as “a truly breathtaking non-sequitur.” The “defendants offer nothing beyond speculation” as to why the Mosbys would be any different than any other law-abiding Baltimore resident in seeking “peace and an end to violence,” he wrote.

Schatzow also rejected the claim of a conflict posed by Mosby’s interactions with Billy Murphy, the lawyer representing the Gray family. Murphy donated $4,000 to Mosby’s campaign, but the Fraternal Order of Police gave nearly that much - $3,250 - so the idea that Murphy’s slightly larger contribution made Mosby indebted to him is laughable, her deputy wrote.

Murphy also was on Mosby’s transition team, but so were more than a dozen others, he wrote. Murphy represents no one in criminal cases related to Gray’s death, and hasn’t filed suit in civil court either, he added.

“The notion that Mrs. Mosby would bring baseless criminal charges with the entire nation watching just so that Mr. Murphy might have some advantage in the civil case is ludicrous,” the motion reads.

The defense also cited a letter the officers’ attorneys sent threatening to sue the city, Mosby and the Baltimore Sheriff’s Department over a knife found in Gray’s pocket during his arrest. The defense attorneys back an officer’s claim that the knife was illegal. They want prosecutors to produce the blade for inspection.

Mosby said the knife was legal, and could not have justified Gray’s arrest, since an officer wrote that he discovered it only after Gray had been detained.

“Gray was handcuffed at his surrendering location, moved a few feet away, and placed in a prone position with his arms handcuffed behind his back, all before the arresting officers found the knife,” the prosecutors’ motion reads.

Mosby asked the judge last week to impose a gag order barring court personnel, lawyers, police, the defendants and witnesses from discussing any details of the case.

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