- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 10, 2015


There are several key players in the case of six Baltimore Police officers charged in the death of Freddie Carlos Gray Jr., who was arrested on April 12 and declared dead of a spinal injury on April 19.

The case is universally referred to in the media as the Freddie Gray case, perhaps because Freddie Gray is still on trial as a crime suspect or perhaps because using the names of the six defendants wouldn’t be headline worthy.

Plus, listing the officers’ name would create such a dilemma. Would their names be according to race? There are three white officers and three black. Would they be according to rank: There is a lieutenant and a sergeant. By seniority? In alphabetical order?

By midday Thursday, it didn’t matter. Circuit Court Judge Barry Glenn Williams had ruled that all six defendants would be tried in the city of Baltimore. On Sept. 2, Judge Williams ruled that the each defendant would be tried separately, beginning Oct. 13.

I admit, it would be easier to pick the winner of the NFC East matchup on Sunday night than cull together a cheat sheet for the upcoming trials. But I’m going to give a shot. Agree or not, your call is your call.

• Judge Williams was born in Neptune, New Jersey (like Jack Nicholson), served as a Baltimore assistant state’s attorney, federal trial lawyer and special litigator at the Justice Department before being appointed to the bench of the 8th Judicial Circuit. As an excellent jurist should, Judge Williams has appeals court experience, and he served as chair of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council. He is 53 years old.

In his change-of-venue ruling after a defense motion citing media influence, Judge Williams denied the motion, noting that the case already had received worldwide media coverage. “Information is ubiquitous,” he said.

Judge Williams’ most memorable comment: “Where does one find a jurisdiction not so permeated with publicity?”

• Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake first garnered more than 15 minutes of fame when she effectively told Baltimore Police to stand down and let the looters loot and the rioters riot following Gray’s autopsy announcement in April. Baltimoreans tore down pockets the town, and now they and everyone who pays taxes to Charm City are going to pay for it. With no civil lawsuit filed and before Judge Williams could even rule of the change-of-venue motion, Mrs. Rawlings-Blake agreed to pay the Gray family $6.4 million in damages. That decision will either prove to be one of the costliest ever or a smart political move — especially since Mrs. Rawlings-Blake announced Friday morning that she will not seek re-election.

• The public and my eighth sense. I reserve my seventh sense solely for the Washington Redskins and, for the most part, do not care what others think of their name. I do think, however, that the public is leaning toward convicting the six officers — Officers Caesar Goodson Jr., Garrett Miller, Edward Nero and William Porter, and Lt. Brian Rice and Sgt. Alice White.

Whether you accept the prosecution’s version of the facts that led to the indictments, or you stand on the other side of the street there, public and social media are all over the place. So are experts. Take your pick.

In a separate pretrial ruling on Thursday, Judge Williams denied a defense request to subpoena documents and files from the State’s Attorney’s Office. The request for the files, which included police academy training materials, was too broad, the judge said.

The defense did not have a good day in court.

Too much, too little, too late. Most observers seemingly fall into one of those three categories or somewhere in between them.

Freddie Gray’s family, of course, is situated differently — even though the city has agreed to reward their victimization relatively handsomely.

When the trials begin next month, they might see things in a different light, too.

Deborah Simmons can be reached at [email protected]

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