Judge to meet with prosecution and defense after Porter mistrial
BALTIMORE (WBFF) - A prayer vigil formed Wednesday night at Penn North, the epicenter of April's violent unrest, in reaction to the officer William Porter mistrial.
Dozens stood side by side, locking arms and chanting in prayer.
A mistrial was announced after jurors remained deadlocked, unable to reach a verdict on any of the charges. Around 3 p.m. Judge Barry Williams said it was clear the group was unable to reach consensus on all counts.
"You are a hung jury," he said.
Jurors were also deadlocked Tuesday afternoon, but were told to continue deliberating. The panel of 12 had the case for three days and deliberated for 16 hours.
At least two arrests were made outside the courthouse after the mistrial was announced; 21-year-old Darius Rosebrough, an activist known as Kwame Rose, and a 16-year-old juvenile. The sheriff's office says both are charged with disorderly conduct, failure to obey a law enforcement officer's command, and disturbing the peace by using a bullhorn outside the courthouse while court was in session.
Porter, the first of six Baltimore City police officers to stand trial in the Freddie Gray case, faces charges of involuntary manslaughter, assault/second degree and misconduct in office. During the trial prosecutors painted him as an officer who showed "callous indifference for life [who] ... didn't take a few extra seconds to buckle [Gray] in." The defense argued Porter did nothing different compared to what another "reasonable officer" would do.
A total of 28 witnesses were called over eight days of testimony, 16 for the prosecution and 12 for the defense. Witnesses called included Porter's colleagues, police academy instructors and his mother, as well as crime lab technicians, a DNA expert, a neurosurgeon, and the assistant state medical examiner who ruled Gray's death a homicide.
Gray's mother and stepfather, Gloria Darden and Richard Shipley, held a press conference after the mistrial was announced, thanking the jury and asking for peace.
"We are confident there will be another trial with a different jury," Shipley said. "We are calm, you should be calm, too."
Gray family attorney Billy Murphy said he would not second-guess the prosecution, calling the mistrial a bump on the road to justice.
"Hung juries are not unusual," Murphy said. "Approximately 5 percent of all the criminal cases that are tried in the country result in hung juries. Most of them are re-prosecuted and in a high percentage of those cases there is a conviction. So, this hung jury does not mean it's the end of Officer Porter's case."
Judge Williams scheduled a private meeting for Thursday, with attorneys for the prosecution and defense in his chambers. It is expected that a new trial date will be set for Porter.
Any new trial for Porter could affect the trial of the other five officers facing charges in the death of Gray, which are scheduled to begin between January and March.
- Caesar Goodson: Jan. 6, 2016 (charged with: second-degree depraved heart murder, manslaughter, assault/second degree, manslaughter by vehicle, and misconduct in office)
- Alicia White: Jan. 25, 2016 (charged with: manslaughter, assault/second degree and misconduct in office)
- Garrett Miller: Feb. 9, 2016 (charged with: assault/second degree, misconduct in office and false imprisonment)
- Edward Nero: Feb. 22, 2016 (charged with: assault/second degree , assault/second degree, misconduct in office and false imprisonment)
- Brian Rice: March 9, 2016 (charged with: manslaughter, assault/second degree, misconduct in office and false imprisonment)
Porter was expected to be used as a witness against the driver of the police van, Officer Goodson.