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  September 10, 2015

Judge: Trials for Officers Charged With Killing Freddie Gray to Stay in Baltimore

On Thursday morning judge Barry Williams rejected the defense's argument, that the six officers charged in the killing of Freddie Gray could not get fair and impartial trials in Baltimore.
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Jaisal Noor is a producer for The Real News Network. His stories have appeared on Democracy Now!, Free Speech Radio News and other independent news outlets. Jaisal was raised in the Baltimore-area, and has a degree in history from the University of Maryland, College Park.


TAYA GRAHAM, TRNN: This is Taya Graham live here at the Real News Network [inaud.]. I'm here [inaud.] we just [inaud.] news of the most recent motion in the Freddie Gray case [were changing venue]. [Inaud.] six officers accused of the death of Freddie Gray has just been announced. We have Jaisal Noor here talking with us about it. Hi, Jaisal, how are you doing.

JAISAL NOOR, TRNN: I'm good. So just moments ago Judge Barry Williams ruled that the trial will stay in Baltimore. He denied the defense's motion.

GRAHAM: That's really exciting, I can tell the crowd is really excited by this news. Can you tell me a little bit, something about why Judge Barry Williams might have ruled in favor of the prosecution?

NOOR: So he laid out his response and his reasoning. The defense had argued that because of all the pre-trial publicity, because of the riots, because of the protests, there could not be a fair and impartial jury. Now, during that argument--the judge pushed back on that argument. He said, are you saying that the, that citizens of Baltimore can't think for themselves? I found that moment very interesting. The defense also argued that because there's a culture of witness intimidation in this city the defense could not get a fair trial. And so the judge's response to that was, then should we just abolish all of, all of the jury process altogether?

So the burden of proof was on the defense, and the judge felt they did not meet that burden.

GRAHAM: That's an incredible ruling. I was wondering, what do you think the implications are for this ruling?

NOOR: Well, certainly people in this city want justice. They have demonstrated that from day one, since Freddie Gray was injured. The prosecution also has said they want justice. It's rare for police officers to get indicted in instances of police brutality, and this is a really rare occurrence here in Baltimore. So people are definitely interested, they're engaged, and this is not just, as the judge, the defense and prosecution noted, this isn't just news in Baltimore. This is national, international news, as well.

GRAHAM: Do you have any other highlights from the case you might want to share? Or do you think for example the $6.4 million reward to the Gray family might have some influence?

NOOR: The settlement was definitely brought up by the defense. But that is not, as the judge said, that is not admissible in this process. The defense also highlighted statements by city officials, the mayor, the former police commissioner Anthony Batts. The judge's response was citizens in this city can think for themselves. They're not necessarily going to be swayed by what officials say.

And he also said that, and the prosecution even agreed, that when they empanel a jury, when they are able to question a jury, the judge and the attorneys can decide if the jury can be impartial and if they can be truthful. And if they feel that they can't be truthful those jurors will be removed. If they can't empanel 72 jurors for these six trials then the prosecution even agreed, they will agree to move the panel outside of Baltimore. The judge also noted that the media coverage is everywhere. Social media is everywhere. Just moving it to a different jurisdiction within Maryland is not going to mean that people are not inundated by the news and the media.

GRAHAM: That's very true. What do you think of the response of the crowd out here?

NOOR: Well, there's obvious excitement here. I know it was raining just a few moments ago, it cleared up, but there's a sizable crowd here. And people are celebrating this decision. They feel that there should be a trial here. This is where the alleged crime happened. This is where Freddie Gray lived. And therefore the trial should be here, and it seems like at least initially the trial, the six trials, will start here.

GRAHAM: Well, if I'm reading the mood of the crowd right they seem like they're having a celebration and they seem like they feel that justice is finally being done.

This is Taya Graham and Jaisal Noor for the Real News Network in Baltimore City, Maryland.


DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


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