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Judge denies effort to move Freddie Gray trials out of Baltimore based on Sun coverage

Judge denies defense request to move Freddie Gray trials out of Baltimore because of Sun coverage

A Baltimore judge has denied another request by defense attorneys that the trials of six police officers charged in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray be moved out of the city.

In their second request for a change of venue, attorneys for all six officers argued last week that a news article published by The Baltimore Sun on Sept. 27 and a column by The Sun's Dan Rodricks had tainted the jury pool.

The news article included statements some of the officers made to police investigators. Rodricks imagined going through the jury selection process.

The attorneys asked that Williams reconsider an earlier decision to deny their first request to move the cases out of the city.

"Whether the statements published by the Baltimore Sun are true or false, the information has been published to the potential jury pool and the paper has represented the information to be accurate," the defense wrote. "Whether this Honorable Court rules that the statements are inadmissible in none, one, or all six trials, the prejudicial information has already been published to the potential jurors."

The Sun reported that Officer William G. Porter told police investigators he warned Officer Caesar R. Goodson Jr. that Gray required medical attention. Porter also told investigators he had informed Sgt. Alicia D. White that Gray needed medical attention. White told investigators she was not told he needed care.

But in an order made public on Tuesday, Judge Barry Williams wrote that the jury selection process "is still the appropriate method to determine whether the jury could render a fair and impartial verdict."

Gray, 25, sustained a severe spinal cord injury while handcuffed and shackled — but not seat-belted — in the back of a police transport van. His death a week later sparked protests; on the day he was buried, the city erupted in riots, arson and looting.

Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby charged the six officers with a range of crimes.

Goodson, who drove the van, is charged with second-degree murder. White, Porter and Lt. Brian W. Rice are charged with manslaughter. Officer Edward M. Nero and Officer Garrett E. Miller face lesser charges, including second-degree assault. All six have been charged with misconduct in office.

All have pleaded not guilty to all charges and are free on bail.

Porter, who prosecutors have said is a "material witness" against Goodson and White, is scheduled to be tried first, beginning Nov. 30.

In a separate order made available Tuesday, Williams denied a request by all six officers that the court suppress evidence collected from their department cellphones.

In a third order, Williams granted a request by Porter that the state provide a written transcript of the statement he made to police investigators.

krector@baltsun.com

twitter.com/rectorsun

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