Conflicting statements from officers William Porter and Alicia White could provide key evidence during trial
STEPHEN JANIS, TRNN: Hello, my name is Stephen Janis. I’m a reporter for the Real News Network. I’m here in front of the Mitchell Courthouse in Baltimore, Maryland talking to Jaisal Noor, a reporter for the Real News who has been covering the trial of Freddie Gray. Today motions were heard for the six officers who have been charged in Gray’s death, specifically about statements those officers might have made to investigators prior to the charges. Why don’t you give us a little overview of what motions were, what was at stake today in the courthouse? JAISAL NOOR, TRNN: There were motions today that were heard around suppressing the testimony of the, five of the six witnesses who spoke to police investigators before they were charged in the death of Freddie Gray. One of the officers, Officer Goodson, the driver, did not give a statement. But for the other five officers, today and tomorrow Judge Barry Williams is hearing their motions, whether they can use the testimony as evidence. JANIS: First up was Alicia White, who is one of the officers who opened the van and looked in but didn’t do anything. What were the arguments back and forth in Alicia White’s case with her statement? NOOR: Alicia White gave two statements to police officers. One on April 12, and one on April 17. The first statement on April 12 was given to Det. Boyd, who spoke today. He was, he took the stand. JANIS: And Det. Boyd is part of the forced investigation into the police department. NOOR: Det. Boyd is part of the forced investigation unit in the Western District. He was tasked with investigating the death of Freddie Gray. So he was questioned by, he was–a witness of the prosecution. He was asked about what the nature of the questions were. He said that they were not coerced. It was a casual conversation. In no way was Det. Alicia White compelled to give that testimony. Which was a key point. What was different about the 17th, the second date, is that Alicia White went from being a witness on April 12 to being questioned as part of the trial. What came out was she was questioned because there was inconsistencies from the statements that were given from the officers. So she was given her Miranda and her Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights waivers. She signed those waivers. So again, the testimony, it was argued, was not coerced and the officer was free to leave at any time. JANIS: That brings up a great question. What was the defense saying–or an interesting question–what was the defense saying is the reason that they wanted these statements excluded from the trial? NOOR: Well obviously, I mean, we can assume that the statements could be used in the prosecution’s favor. That’s obviously why they want that taken. And the defense was arguing that Alicia White did not know she was, she went from being a witness to being involved in an actual investigation. But the prosecution can point to the fact that she did sign the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights waiver, and she acknowledged her Miranda rights in the second interview. And the defense, and the judge actually noted that because the testimony was not coerced then it can be used, although he said he will revisit this during the trial. But it’s not–these statements are not going to be removed from the evidence as of right now. JANIS: So what did the judge finally decide? NOOR: So the judge ruled against the defense motion. He ruled that the testimony of Alicia White on April 12 and April 17 will be part of the evidence for this trial. JANIS: The other officers are still in court, so are they going to consider motions for all the other officers’ statements? NOOR: The other motion that was decided today was to sequester all the witnesses. So only one witness, essentially, will be in the trial at any given time, which is pretty standard for these types of cases. And over the course of these next two days, we’re not sure of what other pre-trial motions will be heard. But for the five police officers we will be hearing whether their statements to police officers will be suppressed or not. JANIS: At the end of this particular hearing you overheard something from one of the lawyers, specifically the lawyer for Alicia White. What did you overhear? NOOR: So Attorney Bates, who represents Alicia White, he also gave the opening statement in the trial. Right before Judge Barry Williams’ decision I overheard him talk to a member of the audience in the courtroom, and he believed Judge Barry Williams had already made up his decision. He already made up his mind around this. And he said that right in front of me, so I think it’s fair to share that. But I, I mean, this is yet another motion that has gone in the prosecution’s favor. We have the effort to move the trial out of Baltimore City. We have the effort to get Marilyn Mosby, the state’s attorney, off the trial. And now we have a motion to suppress the testimony of Alicia White. And so far this trial, at least the pre-trial motions, have gone in the favor of the prosecution. JANIS: Thank you. This is Jaisal Noor and Stephen Janis reporting from the Mitchell Courthouse. We’ll be having ongoing updates about what’s happening with the trial throughout the week.
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