State's attorney's office hits back at defense in Gray case

State's Attorney's Office: Defense claims in Gray case are “illogical, unsupported, frivolous, unprecede

Prosecutors responded Thursday to the request by lawyers for the police officers accused in the Freddie Gray case that State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby be removed from the proceedings, calling their arguments "illogical, unsupported, frivolous, and unprecedented."

Lawyers for the six officers charged by Mosby have asked a judge to dismiss the case or recuse Mosby over what they say are conflicts of interest. They are seeking an expedited hearing on their request.

In a response filed Thursday, Mosby's deputy called the "emergency" filings "increasingly desperate efforts to hijack the grand jury process" and an "an 'emergency' of their own making."

Deputy State's Attorney Michael Schatzow said the state is allowed 30 days to respond to the defense motions, and noted that the six officers charged in the case are all free on bail.

"The facts asserted by the plaintiffs in support of the relief requested are of little moment, and their arguments are illogical, unsupported, frivolous, and unprecedented, [but] the relief that they seek is serious indeed," Schatzow wrote. "To the extent that a substantive response is ultimately required to their complaint, more time and care must be devoted to that response than 48 hours would allow."

A judge is expected to rule on the motions at a later date. The next step in the case is expected to be a grand jury indictment, which defense attorneys believe could occur within the next two weeks. A preliminary district court hearing for the officers is tentatively scheduled for May 27.

Also Thursday, police classified Gray's death as a homicide.

Gray died April 19 after suffering a severe spinal cord injury and a crushed voice box while in police custody. Two weeks later, Mosby announced criminal charges against six officers.

Defense attorneys for Lt. Brian Rice, Sgt. Alicia White and officers Caesar Goodson, Garrett Miller, Edward Nero, William Porter, sought dismissal of the case or recusal of the state's attorney's office last week.

The attorneys alleged conflicts of interest including "the seizing of political and personal gain by" by Mosby and her husband, City Councilman Nick Mosby; a personal relationship between a top prosecutor on the case, Janice Bledsoe, and a television reporter, WBAL-TV's Jayne Miller, who the attorneys say they might call as a witness at trial; and close ties between Mosby and William H. Murphy Jr., the attorney hired by Gray's family, among other claims.

"The conflicts presented by the State's Attorney's Office are deep, are real, and are imminent," the attorneys wrote.

Nick Mosby represents the city's 7th District, which includes the Gilmor Homes housing project, where Gray was arrested, as well as the Pennsylvania Avenue corridor at the center of protests and rioting over his death.

Murphy supported Marilyn Mosby's campaign and, according to an email purportedly from Murphy and included in the filing by the defense attorneys, represented her in a matter before the Attorney Grievance Commission last year.

Mosby has dismissed the allegations of conflicts of interest. She told The Baltimore Sun this month that Murphy never represented her. She acknowledged receiving a campaign donation from Murphy but noted that she also received money from the Fraternal Order of Police, which has denounced the charges.

Police added Gray's death to their list of city homicides Thursday, nearly two weeks after Mosby filed charges.

Cases normally are added to the list after prosecutors provide autopsy results from the state medical examiner. But in Gray's case, police have not received autopsy information beyond details shared by Mosby when she announced the charges against the officers at a news conference May 1.

Mosby said "the manner of death deemed a homicide by the State Medical Examiner is believed to be the result of a fatal injury that occurred while Mr. Gray was unrestrained by a seatbelt in the custody of the Baltimore Police Department wagon."

A spokesman for the medical examiner's office said state law requires only that the office to deliver autopsy information to prosecutors.

"As a matter of courtesy, it used to be provided to the police as well," spokesman Bruce Goldfarb said. But the practice stopped in recent years, he said, out of concern that autopsy information was being circulated too widely.

The medical examiner now provides two copies of an autopsy to the state's attorney's office, one with a letter that says prosecutors "may provide this to law enforcement at your discretion when you feel it's appropriate," Goldfarb said.

Police spokesman Capt. Eric Kowalczyk said police have not received the autopsy findings on the manner of Gray's death. But after receiving inquiries from The Sun, they added the case based on the criminal charges.

jfenton@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2017, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
79°