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Two officers who arrested Freddie Gray ask for separate trials, statements to be suppressed

Officers charged in Freddie Gray case: Top, from left, Caeser R. Goodson Jr., Sgt. Alicia D. White, Officer Garrett E. Miller.; bottom, from left, Lt. Brian W. Rice, Officer William G. Porter, Officer Edward M. Nero.
Officers charged in Freddie Gray case: Top, from left, Caeser R. Goodson Jr., Sgt. Alicia D. White, Officer Garrett E. Miller.; bottom, from left, Lt. Brian W. Rice, Officer William G. Porter, Officer Edward M. Nero. (Baltimore Police / Baltimore Sun)

Two Baltimore police officers charged with assault in connection with Freddie Gray's arrest have asked to be tried separately from two other officers charged with more serious crimes in his death.

They've also asked for statements they made to investigators following the incident to be suppressed.

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Attorneys for Officers Edward Nero and Garrett Miller filed motions in Baltimore Circuit Court on Friday opposing the stated intention of Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby to try them alongside Officer Caesar Goodson and Sgt. Alicia White.

Goodson, the driver of the police transport van in which Gray was injured, is charged with second-degree depraved heart murder, and White is charged with manslaughter. Nero and Miller, bicycle officers involved in Gray's initial arrest, face lesser charges, including second-degree assault.

In their opposition motions, the officers' attorneys argued that trying Nero and Miller alongside Goodson and White would "severely prejudice" their clients' right to a fair trial because the crimes with which they are charged "are substantially different and less serious than those of the other Defendants."

"Consequently, if the Defendants are joined for trial, there will be a substantial amount of evidence that would be admissible against the other Defendants but would be inadmissible against Defendant Nero," wrote Nero's attorney, Marc L. Zayon.

Catherine Flynn, the attorney for Miller, made the same argument, verbatim, in her own filing on behalf of Miller.

Both also argued that "it is anticipated that the State may seek to introduce statements made by co-defendants," leaving them without "an opportunity to confront and cross examine these witnesses and challenge the substance of these statements."

Zayon declined to comment. Flynn could not be reached for comment.

Rochelle Ritchie, a spokeswoman for Mosby, said Mosby's office "will litigate this case in the courtroom not the media."

Gray, 25, was arrested April 12 and sustained a severe spinal cord injury while in the back of a police transport wagon, prosecutors said. His death a week later spurred protests against police brutality across the city. His funeral on April 27 was followed by unrest that included looting and rioting.

Prosecutors announced their intention to charge Nero and Miller with Goodson and White in a procedural filing late last month. They also announced their intention to try two other officers charged in the arrest and death of Gray — Lt. Brian Rice and Officer William Porter — together in another trial.

Rice and Porter are also charged with manslaughter.

Prosecutors did not explain their reasoning behind the requests, and a spokeswoman for the state's attorney's office declined to comment at the time.

The move surprised some legal analysts, who expected Nero and Miller, who face misdemeanor charges, to be split off from the four other officers who face felony charges.

In addition to asking for separate trials, the attorneys for Nero and Miller both requested that their clients' statements made to investigators after Gray's arrest be suppressed.

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Both argued their clients' statement "was not a voluntary statement and was obtained illegally," and that it was obtained in violation of the Law Enforcement Bill of Rights and his Miranda rights.

The attorneys did not explain those arguments.

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