Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby's office fired back this week at a defense argument that she should be removed from prosecuting six city police officers in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray, saying in a strongly worded rebuttal that the officers and their attorneys are distorting facts in the hope that "vitriol will trump logic."
The officers' attorneys have argued for weeks that Mosby and her office should be recused from the high-profile case because of conflicts of interest — including that Mosby could become a "central witness" because her office had in the weeks before Gray's arrest sought increased drug enforcement at the corner where police took him into custody.
Defense attorneys also claim conflicts because Mosby's husband, City Councilman Nick Mosby, represents the district where Gray was arrested; because Billy Murphy Jr., the Gray family's attorney, once represented Mosby, sat on her transition team and donated to her campaign; and because Deputy State's Attorney Janice Bledsoe is in a relationship with WBAL reporter Jayne Miller, who interviewed a key witness in the case and could become a witness herself.
Gray, 25, was arrested April 12 and suffered a spinal cord injury while in police custody. His death a week later sparked protests against police brutality, leading to unrest, looting and rioting.
Mosby filed a range of charges against the six officers involved in his arrest and transport.
Officer Caesar R. Goodson Jr., the driver of the police van in which Gray was transported, is charged with second-degree depraved-heart murder, and Sgt. Alicia D. White, Lt. Brian W. Rice and Officer William G. Porter are charged with manslaughter.
Officers Edward M. Nero and Garrett E. Miller face lesser charges, including second-degree assault.
In a 15-page rebuttal filed Wednesday to the conflict-of-interest claims, Chief Deputy State's Attorney Michael Schatzow called the defense claims "baseless theories" that are short on facts and devoid of legal foundation.
He said the officers' defense attorneys have filed similar motions to remove Mosby's office from the case twice before, to no avail.
"They make arguments for which they can find no authority," Schatzow wrote. "They distort facts when they do not invent them. They abhor logic, so they do not use it."
The attorneys for the six officers either declined to comment or could not be reached for comment.
Schatzow called the argument that Mosby could be a "central witness" in the case "preposterous" and "a fairy tale," saying a member of Mosby's office had "merely asked police if they would be interested in a collaborative effort" to address a crime-ridden corner. He said Mosby never "directed" police to do anything.
"Mrs. Mosby did not direct the defendants to chase Mr. Gray," Schatzow wrote. "She did not direct them to arrest him; she did not direct them to handcuff him and place him in a police wagon without putting him in a seat belt, in violation of a [Baltimore Police Department] General Order; she did not direct them to shackle his legs and put him in the wagon on the floor handcuffed and shackled, but not in a seatbelt, in violation of a General Order; she did not direct the defendants to ignore Mr. Gray's requests for a medic; she did not direct defendants to ignore Mr. Gray's medical condition; and she did not direct defendants to pick up another individual in the wagon instead of taking Mr. Gray to the hospital."
Schatzow called the suggestion that Mosby brought charges against the officers to further her husband's political career a "truly breath-taking non-sequitur" that, if given credence, would prevent her from trying cases in an entire council district.
"Mrs. Mosby has shown herself to be a strong, forceful and independent woman. She, not her husband, holds an office won in a city-wide election," Schatzow wrote. "The notion that she would sacrifice her moral, professional and legal obligations to play someone's idea of a seventeenth century housewife is condescending, demeaning, and ridiculous."
Nick Mosby has said previously he has "no involvement" in his wife's office.
On the relationship between Mosby and Murphy, the Gray family's attorney, Schatzow said Murphy's $4,000 contribution to Mosby's campaign represented just 1.3 percent of her overall campaign funds and "hardly seems significant," especially considering the Fraternal Order of Police, the union that represents Baltimore police officers, donated $3,250.
Schatzow said Murphy's role as one of 14 members of Mosby's transition team also "does not satisfy the closeness of personal relationship required for recusal," and that Murphy's previous representation of Mosby was in a "frivolous" proceeding.
"The matter involved little work, was resolved in Ms. Mosby's favor, and is over," Schatzow wrote.
Murphy previously rejected the claim that his support of Mosby created a conflict.
Schatzow said the claim of an alleged conflict based on the relationship between Miller, the WBAL reporter, and Bledsoe, the deputy state's attorney, "defies common sense."
Defense attorneys said Miller interviewed Donta Allen, the man who was arrested the same day as Gray and was placed in the back of the same transport van, and that Miller could be called to testify because statements Allen made to her may contradict statements he made to police about what occurred in the back of the van while he and Gray were in it.
Schatzow said a reporter for another television station interviewed Allen before Miller did and could provide similar testimony. He also wrote that a tape of Miller's interview could serve the needs of the defense; and that if Miller were to testify, Bledsoe would not question her.
Miller has stopped covering the case. She told The Baltimore Sun that had been her plan once it moved from the investigative phase to the legal phase.
A judge had given Mosby until June 26 to respond to three defense motions. In addition to the motion to remove her and her office from the case, defense attorneys have asked that the case be moved away from Baltimore and that it be dismissed because of "prosecutorial misconduct."