After one mistrial and one acquittal a lot is riding on the prosecution of the van driver facing the most serious charge in the death of Freddie Gray. During opening statements Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Michael Schatzow promised to show that Freddie Gray had been given a “rough ride” in the police van without the benefit of a seatbelt result in the spinal injury that caused his death.
I missed most of the trial last week but from what I’ve read, especially the judge’s remarks during motions, a conviction on the charge of depraved heart murder seems a stretch. We’ll know soon enough. I’ll be there to sketch closing arguments Monday morning.
I don’t get down to the U.S. District court in Alexandria much anymore. It used to be a regular trek during the early days of the Bush administration’s war on terror. But this morning I was back at the Albert V. Bryan courthouse to sketch a Romanian email hacker whose nom de guerre is Guccifer (Gucci + Lucifer).
Marcel Lehel Lazar pleaded guilty to two counts related to his breaking into the email accounts of former Secretary of State Colin Powell and members of former President Bush’s family. He also claims to have hacked Hillary Clinton’s private email server – “It was like an open orchid on the Internet. There were hundreds of folders.”- but has not produced any proof of that.
Not a good day for the Baltimore State’s Attorney. The first verdict in the trials of police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray found officer Edward Nero innocent of all charges. That outcome seemed likely from day one in this unusual trial where a police officer faced criminal charges for the kind of arrest that is usually defended by city prosecutors.
The trial of officer Caesar Goodson, the driver of the van in which Freddie Gray sustained the injuries that killed him, will be a different story. That trial begins June 6.
Here are the rest of my sketches from the first day of the trial.
Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert was sentenced Wednesday on one count of “structuring” bank withdrawals to which he had pleaded guilty last year. But of course it wasn’t at all about a financial technicality. Hastert was confronted in the courtroom with testimony from one of his victims, and from the sister of another victim now deceased. The hearing lasted about two hours, with Judge Thomas M. Durkin taking the last forty-five minutes to explain his sentence of fifteen months, far more than prosecutors recommended.
Hastert, who sat in a wheelchair through most of the hearing, was helped to a walker and apologized from the podium. “The thing I want to do today is say I’m sorry to those I hurt and misled,” he said, “I want to apologize to the boys I mistreated when I was their coach. What I did was wrong and I regret it.”
Judge Durkin then asked Hastert if he had in fact sexually abused his victims. After some hesitation Hastert answered, “Yes” to sexually abusing victim B. For two other victims he said he couldn’t remember, and that it was “a different situation,” but didn’t dispute the accusations.
“The defendant is a serial child molester,” said Judge Durkin. “Some actions can obliterate a lifetime of good works. Nothing is more stunning than having ‘serial child molester’ and ‘speaker of the House’ in the same sentence.”
Two pre-trial motions hearings were held in Baltimore yesterday for Officer Caesar Goodson who faces the most serious charge, second degree murder, for the death of Freddie Gray. Goodson drove the van in which Gray was given a “rough ride,” shackled hand and foot without the benefit of a seat belt.
During the first hearing Judge Barry Williams ruled that the trial will remain in Baltimore, and that the jury will not be sequestered but will be anonymous as in the trial of Officer Porter last month.
At a second hearing on whether Officer Porter, who faces a new trial in June after last month’s mistrial, can be compelled to testify in Goodson’s trial Porter took to the witness box briefly and refused to answer questions put to him by Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Michael Schatzow.
After Judge Williams ruled that Officer Porter can be called to testify under immunity defense lawyer Gary Proctor said that he would seek an injunction to file an appeal in Annapolis first thing Thursday morning. It is unusual, and possibly unprecedented, for a defendant facing trial to be granted immunity without a plea deal. If the Court of Appeals grants the injunction Goodson’s trial, which is to start on Monday, could be delayed.
The first prosecution in the death of Freddie Gray ended in a mistrial for Baltimore Police Officer William Porter yesterday. It wasn’t exactly unexpected since the jury had sent out a note the day before saying they were deadlocked.
Here are a few of the sketches I did leading up to the judge declaring a mistrial. I have not included the sketch of Judge Barry Williams because it missed the mark – I never did get a good likeness of the judge.
The sketch below was done Monday morning while standing in line to get into the courthouse, but I added the color yesterday and so I include it.
Just posting today’s sketches of closing arguments in the trial of Baltimore Police Officer William Porter, and calling it a day.
Officer William Porter, on trial for charges relating to the death of Freddie Gray, took the stand on the first day of his defense. I missed his direct testimony which began just as lawyers at the Supreme Court were wrapping up their arguments in a big affirmative action case. But I arrived at the Baltimore courtroom in time to witness the cross-examination by Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Michael Schatzow. Officer Porter impressed me as calm and forceful, and maybe even a little defiant. When Schatzow asked him if “stop snitching” was part of the Baltimore police culture Porter shot back, “Absolutely not. I’m actually offended that you would say something like that.”
The defense was done by the end of the week, and tomorrow closing arguments will be made. Then it will be up to the jury.
Yesterday at the trial of Baltimore police officer William Porter I sketched what I believed were the victim’s mother and sister, but when Freddie Gray’s mother broke down sobbing and had to leave the courtroom I realized I had been mistaken. That is not Freddie Gray’s mother in the sketch, though I do think that is Gray’s sister with the white pom pom hat.
Here are the rest of yesterday’s sketches:
This morning the press gathered in the Media Room before final jury selection.
The jury was empanelled in short order and opening statements were heard. Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby took a seat directly in front of a bench full of sketch artists, but maybe thought that wasn’t such a good idea and moved back a couple of rows just before Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Michael Schatzow began his opening statement.
Defense attorney Gary Proctor painted the jury a different picture of the defendant, Officer William Porter.
With opening statements completed, the State called their first witness, Officer , who trains police on how to identify and respond to possible medical conditions such as Freddie Gray’s.
The judge has kept the trial moving swiftly and promises to finish in just two weeks. We shall see.