Three of the six Baltimore police officers charged in the Freddie Gray case are asking to have reckless endangerment charges dismissed, arguing that failing to secure a person in custody with a seat belt is not a crime.
Attorneys for Lt. Brian W. Rice and Officers Garrett E. Miller and Edward M. Nero have requested a hearing on the motions, which were filed last week after Judge Barry Williams denied the officers' request to move the trial out of Baltimore.
Rice, Nero and Miller each face additional charges of second-degree assault and misconduct in office; Rice also is charged with manslaughter.
Gray, 25, died April 19, a week after suffering a severe spinal cord injury while in police custody. All six officers charged in Gray's arrest and death have pleaded not guilty, and the first of the six trials is scheduled for Oct. 13.
In the 20-page motion, Rice's attorney, Michael J. Belsky, argued that not placing a seat belt on someone in custody "is not gross or criminal, and does not manifest a wanton or reckless disregard for human life."
Attorneys for Nero and Miller filed supplemental motions. All three were posted Thursday to the Circuit Court's website.
"Reckless endangerment, based solely upon the alleged failure of a police officer to seat belt a prisoner during transport, is not a crime in the State of Maryland," the officers' attorneys argued.
Prosecutors, meanwhile, have filed notice that they intend to use DNA evidence and will present an expert on knives. In the filings, which were made available Friday, prosecutors said they have consulted with and plan to call experts in serology and DNA. Prosecutors do not explain who the DNA belongs to or how it factors into the investigation.
Previous court filings show that investigators applied for a search warrant to look for possible DNA on the uniform of Officer Caesar R. Goodson Jr., who drove the transport wagon in which authorities believe Gray was injured. Goodson is charged with second-degree murder and other counts.
Prosecutors say they intend to call an expert "regarding knife mechanics, knife history and knife sales."
The arresting officers had charged Gray with possession of an illegal switchblade knife, after he ran from officers on a West Baltimore corner.
In announcing charges against the officers May 1, prosecutors said a switchblade is not illegal under Maryland law. Attorneys for the officers countered that the knife is prohibited under city code. Prosecutors later said they inspected the knife and determined that it was not a switchblade.
Prosecutors said the "more relevant matters" were "Gray's injuries and what the defendants did to prevent and care for those injuries." However, the knife figures prominently into charges against Nero and Miller, who face charges of misconduct in office and reckless endangerment in Gray's arrest.