What happened today?
Legal proceedings related to the arrest and death of Freddie Gray kicked off again Tuesday with a pre-trial hearing in the criminal case against Officer Edward Nero, one of six Baltimore police officers charged in the case.
What's Officer Nero's case about?
Gray had run from the officers in what they have described as a high-crime area. Gray, 25, suffered severe spinal cord injuries while in the back of the van, prosecutors say, and died a week later.
What was decided today?
> Nero selected a bench trial. Circuit Judge Barry G. Williams will now be the sole decider of Nero's guilt or innocence.
> Williams ruled that Gray's fatal injuries suffered in police custody can be mentioned, denying a defense request to block that information.
But he also denied a request from prosecutors to call medical experts to go "step by step" through those injuries.
> Prosecutors cannot question whether the knife that was found clipped to Gray's pants pocket during his arrest was illegal.
> Citizen videos of the arrest will be allowed, but the audio will be muted.
> The state can mention "excessive force" by the officers, noting that he, as the sole decider of facts in the case, will be "mindful" of what is being argued by the prosecution and what is not.
> Certain information about Gray's past, including previous run-ins with law enforcement and his history of lead poisoning, will be excluded.
> All defense subpoenas issued to assistant state's attorneys will stand, but Williams will determine whether such witnesses can be called to the stand on a case by case basis.
> Nero's charges won't be dropped for the state having failed to articulate which actions of his constituted the crimes.
Williams said the prosecution's descriptions of the crimes committed justified a trial, though the facts surrounding those descriptions remain in dispute.
In several of his rulings, Williams left open the possibility that he could narrow or expand the scope of what is admissible in court as the trial proceeds.
> Williams also addressed a third-party motion filed by The Baltimore Sun and other media outlets, asking for broader transparency and increased access to documents and court proceedings in the officers' trials: He would provide for media representatives to be present during any viewings of evidence by juries, but he rejected the media coalition's request for increased access.
What are the charges against the other police officers?
What's the deal with their trials?
Only one other officer, William Porter, has stood trial to date, in December. His trial included much testimony about Gray's injuries from a string of medical experts. The lack of such experts at Nero's trial will set it apart from Porter's trial.
A 12-member jury panel was unable to reach a consensus on any of the four charges against Porter, including involuntary manslaughter, and a mistrial was declared.
All of the trials were then delayed for months as the state's higher courts took up issues surrounding whether Porter could be forced to testify against his fellow officers under a limited form of immunity that would prevent anything he said on the stand from being used against him at his own retrial. The high court decided he could be forced to testify, and the lower court has since ruled that another officer – Officer Garrett Miller – also could be forced to the stand under similar conditions.
Both Porter and Miller are expected to testify at Nero's trial.