First Freddie Gray Hearing Presents 3 Major Motions That Could Dramatically Change How The Case Is Tried

A pre-trial hearing for the six officers involved in the fatal arrest of Freddie Gray begins Wednesday, and all eyes will once again be on Baltimore. After securing grand jury indictments for the officers, State Attorney Marilyn Mosby famously vowed to get justice for Gray, whose death sparked fiery riots in the beleaguered Maryland city and massive protests nationwide. But with the first Freddie Gray hearing set, three motions could dramatically alter how the case is tried and what outcome faces Gray's family and the six officers involved in his death.

On April 12, police stopped and arrested Gray for allegedly carrying an illegal knife. Yet sometime while in police custody, Gray suffered a severe spinal injury. The 25-year-old was taken to a hospital where he fell into a week-long coma and died. Mosby has since said the knife was, in fact, legal, putting into question over whether the arrest should have happened.

As the case enters the court for the first time, it's important to understand how each motion could set the rules on how both the prosecution and defense can argue it out in court. Here's what's at stake.

1. Whether The Six Officers' Charges Should Be Dropped

(From top left, clockwise: Officer Caesar Goodson, Jr., Lt. Brian Rice, Sgt. Alicia White, Officer Garrett Miller, Officer William Porter, Officer Edward Nero.)

In May, Mosby announced a grand jury had indicted all six officers on varying charges from second-degree depraved heart murder and involuntary manslaughter to second-degree assault. All six officers have pleaded not guilty. Depending on both sides' preliminary arguments, a judge can rule to drop some or all of the charges facing each officer.

The officers' charges are:

  • Goodson: one count of second-degree depraved heart murder, involuntary manslaughter, second-degree negligent assault, manslaughter by vehicle (gross negligence), manslaughter by vehicle (criminal negligence), and misconduct in office.
  • Rice: one count of involuntary manslaughter, two counts of second-degree assault, two counts of misconduct in office, and one count false imprisonment.
  • White: one count of involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, and misconduct in office.
  • Miller: two counts of second-degree assault, two counts of misconduct in office, and one count of false imprisonment.
  • Porter: one count of involuntary manslaughter, second-degree negligent assault, and misconduct in office.
  • Nero: two counts of second-degree assault, two counts of misconduct in office, and one count of false imprisonment.

2. Whether Mosby And Her Office Should Recuse Themselves

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This is the one to keep an eye on. Defense attorneys filed a motion for Mosby to recuse herself from trying the case because they believe her office has a conflict of interest. Some of the allegations include Mosby and husband City Councilman Nick Mosby, who represents the district where Gray was from, would benefit from the trial politically and financially. According to CNN, Mosby previously received $5,000 in campaign donations from the Gray family's attorney William Murphy. The defense also alleged Mosby influenced public favor and the jury pool by visibly pushing for securing justice for Gray, part of which happened after she controversially appeared with Prince on stage during his free "Rally4Peace" concert. Mosby's office has insisted there is no conflict of interest.

3. Whether The Six Officers Should Be Tried Together Or Separately

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Attorneys for each officer are expected to argue their clients should be tried separately because of their varying charges. Nero and Miller face misdemeanor counts for their roles in Gray's arrest, yet the prosecution has indicated they would like to group the pair with White and Goodson, the latter of whom has the most serious charge of second-degree murder, according to The Baltimore Sun. Rice and Porter also face manslaughter charges, but their cases could be siphoned off in a separate trial.

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Presiding over the case is Circuit Court Judge Barry Glenn Williams, and he could rule on each motion immediately or take his time in deciding. Another pretrial hearing is set for Sept. 10, when Williams will hear the defense's argument for a change of venue. The trial date is set for Oct. 13, but as you know, that could easily change.

The Gray case signifies a major moment in the push to end police brutality, and experts are split on what the outcome will be. With so much attention on both Mosby and the defense, and national eyes and opinions weighing in on the case, Baltimore has once again become the setting of a civil rights showdown.

Image: Baltimore Police Department