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Jury picked, opening statements Tuesday in Gun Trace Task Force trial

A look a the timeline of our coverage of the Baltimore Police racketeering case from the first day U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein announced the charges until the trial. (Kevin Richardson / Baltimore Sun video)

Opening statements are slated for Tuesday morning in the federal trial of two members of the Baltimore Police Department’s corrupt Gun Trace Task Force.

Attorneys spent Monday selecting a jury from a pool of about 75 people from across the state. The 12-member panel, along with four alternates, was finalized just after 5 p.m.

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Detectives Daniel Hersl and Marcus Taylor have pleaded not guilty and are fighting accusations that they committed crimes as members of the elite gun unit, including robbing citizens and taking overtime pay for hours not worked.

Six other officers have pleaded guilty, and at least four of them are expected to testify for the government.

Prosecutors said the first witness they expect to call is Detective Maurice Ward, who worked with Taylor in a squad run by Sgt. Wayne Jenkins before they were pulled as a group into the Gun Trace Task Force in June 2016.

Hersl and Taylor face charges of racketeering conspiracy, robbery and possession of a firearm in a crime of violence.

The officers have been detained since their arrest March 1, and the start of their trial marked their first court appearances not dressed in jail jumpsuits. Hersl wore khakis and a blue blazer over a white shirt with no tie, while Taylor was dressed in a blue suit with a blue dress shirt and blue pattern tie.

Hersl occasionally turned around in his seat looking at family members in attendance.

U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake is presiding over the trial, which she said Monday could last up to four weeks. The trial will not take place on Wednesday, and will not be held on Fridays.

The eight officers were accused of executing searches without warrants, invading private homes, robbing suspects and innocent citizens of cash, reselling seized drugs on the street, and making fraudulent overtime claims.

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Jenkins and Thomas Allers, who was also a sergeant who oversaw the unit, and Detectives Momodu Gondo, Jemell Rayam, Evodio Hendrix and Ward have pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and other charges. Allers, Rayam, Hendrix and Ward face maximum sentences of 20 years; Jenkins faces a minimum sentence of 20 years and maximum of 30 years; and Gondo faces a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.

Since the indictments, prosecutors have dropped or plan to drop more than 100 criminal cases that rely on the officers’ testimony. Those include more than 50 adjudicated cases that prosecutors successfully reopened, only to drop, in consultation with defense counsel.

A Philadelphia police officer who attended the Baltimore Police training academy is also facing charges in the case.

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