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Prosecutor in Freddie Gray case once represented him on drug charge

A lead prosecutor in the case against six Baltimore police officers charged in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray once represented the 25-year-old, according to court filings.

Deputy State's Attorney Janice Bledsoe was in private practice as a defense attorney in September 2012 when she was appointed by the Office of the Public Defender to represent Gray in a drug case, according to the records.

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The Office of the Public Defender pays so-called panel attorneys to take on cases when conflicts of interest arise and its attorneys cannot represent all of the defendants. Several of Gray's family members also were defendants in the case, according to the records.

Gray ultimately pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of cocaine in May 2013 after spending a year and five days in jail, court records show. He was sentenced to nine years, with all but his time served suspended, as well as 18 months' probation, records show. Gray subsequently violated that probation.

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Gray died in April, one week after suffering a severe spinal injury while in police custody. His death sparked widespread protests over alleged police brutality.

Defense attorneys for the police officers charged in Gray's death have not raised Bledsoe's previous representation of Gray as a concern.

On Thursday, the attorneys said in a statement that they were "just learning about the prosecutor's prior representation of Freddie Gray and are investigating it as we are investigating every facet of this case. We have filed no Motion relative to this issue at this point and will continue to litigate this case in the courtroom and not in the press."

Rochelle Ritchie, a spokesman for Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby, also issued a statement.

"Unfortunately in Baltimore City, many defendants become victims of crime. Lawyers also change roles within the legal profession," she said. "Defending an individual one day does not preclude an attorney from fighting for justice for that same individual the next."

The officers' attorneys have previously contended that Mosby had multiple conflicts of interest, including that her husband Nick Mosby serves as the city councilman representing the district where much of rioting and looting occurred after Gray's funeral. They also have argued that Bledsoe's relationship with WBAL investigative reporter Jayne Miller represented a conflict.

Prosecutors have denied all of those claims of conflict.

In a Sept. 11, 2012, letter filed in court, Assistant Public Defender Marie Gering informed Bledsoe that she was "hereby appointed to represent" Gray in that case. Bledsoe accepted the case, court filings show.

Deputy Public Defender Natalie Finegar said panel attorneys are often tapped for cases with multiple defendants when it would be inappropriate for the Office of the Public Defender to represent multiple clients whose best interests are not aligned.

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