The defense for six police offices says tensions are too high to hold a fair trial in Baltimore
The state would like to decide a venue after a jury is selected
Freddie Gray's death in police custody in the spring set off violent protests
The claim made Monday is the latest in pretrial wrangling over the likelihood of seating an unbiased jury within Baltimore City.
“Baltimore City has remained in a constant state of turmoil” since the April death of Gray, the defense motion reads. Gray died of a severe spinal cord injury while in police custody, sparking violent protests.
Unrest in the city is “still chillingly evident” because of violent crime being at its highest and an embattled relationship between the police and residents, which keeps Gray “fresh in the minds of Baltimore,” the motion says.
Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts has ordered an independent review of the Police Department’s handling of the riots in the wake of Gray’s death, the department announced Tuesday.
Baltimore police officers in Freddie Gray case
Attorneys representing the officers facing charges in Gray’s death continue to rely on their argument that the publicity of the case and the ensuing unrest shows no signs of stopping. The defense points to the recent leaking of the autopsy performed on Gray, which they note was only in the hands of the state’s attorney’s office and the lawyer for the Gray family.
The state contends that a ruling on change of venue should be postponed until jury selection takes place and then determine whether a presumption of prejudice exists against the defendants. But the defense calls the chances of seating an unbiased jury not only improbable, but impossible and violates their defendant’s rights to a speedy trial.