Verdict in Rice trial draws nearer as defense rests on day four
BALTIMORE (WBFF) -- A verdict in the Brian Rice trial could be days away.
On Tuesday, Lt. Brian Rice's defense team rested its case after calling four witnesses to the stand. The final two witnesses to testify were medical experts.
They disagreed with prosecution experts on when Gray was hurt and about the manner of his death. The doctor who autopsied Freddie Gray, assistant medical examiner Carol Allan, has called his death a homicide. The defense expert, former Washington D.C. medical examiner Jonathan Arden said in court that it was an accident.
Arden said Gray's injuries occurred as an unexpected event. He also agreed that it was somewhat possible that a seat belt would have prevented his injuries.
Brian Rice is charged with manslaughter in the death of Freddie Gray. Gray suffered fatal injuries in the back of a police van. Prosecutors have said Rice could have saved Gray's life by putting him in a seat belt.
One of the experts who the defense called to the stand, neurologist Matthew Ammerman, said that after reviewing medical records and witness accounts, he is convinced that Freddie Gray suffered a fatal spinal injury. Ammerman said this occurred after the fifth stop made by the transport van in which Gray was riding.
Prosecutors have long contended the injury occurred after the second stop. Lieutenant Rice, who is the highest ranking officer charged in the case, left the scene shortly after the second stop.
"I think the real issue is what Lieutenant Rice did and did not do when he placed Gray in the van," said University of Maryland Law Professor Douglas Colbert.
Ammerman did testify that the type of lap belt that comes equipped in police transport vans likely would not have prevented the type of injury Gray incurred.
"They don't restrict enough of the body that other injuries may occur," Ammerman testified.
Rice declined to testify in his own trial. He is the third officer out of four who have been charged in the Freddie Gray case to do so. The sole officer who did, Officer William Porter, had some of that testimony transcript entered into evidence in Rice's trial. Porter also testified in Rice's trial, but Rice's defense said it was not allowed to ask Porter as many questions as it wanted to.
The defense could only ask questions based on the prosecution's examination of Porter. Judge Barry Williams allowed parts of the transcript as evidence.
Williams has scheduled closing arguments for Wednesday, but has yet to indicate when he may render his verdict. In Officer Caesar Goodson's trial, he took two days before issuing a verdict that Goodson was not guilty on all charges.