New trial date set for Officer William Porter

Posted at 11:39 PM, Dec 21, 2015

There is a new date for Officer William Porter’s trial – but it’s not certain that the date will be kept.

Last week a jury in Baltimore City could not reach a verdict in the trial of Officer Porter -- the first officer to come to trial in connection with the death of Freddie Gray.

Monday morning, Porter’s attorneys met with prosecutors and Judge Barry Williams to agree on the new trial date, which has been set for June 13.

The next trial is Officer Caesar Goodson’s; he was driving the police van through the Western District back in April when Gray was taken into custody, and he faces the most serious charge of any of the six officers: 2nd degree depraved heart murder.

His trial starts in less than three weeks, on January 6th, and Officer Porter is the key witness for the state.

“They need Porter to say ‘I told Officer Goodson that Mr. Gray needed a medic,” said Sheryl Wood, a local defense attorney who used to work for the Department of Justice, where she prosecuted police officers accused of committing crimes.

Because of the mistrial, Porter’s case is still pending.  That means his 5th Amendment right not to incriminate himself remains intact; so if he is called to testify against Goodson, he could refuse.

Wood says it's likely that Officer Porter's attorneys have now been arguing that all charges against Porter should be dropped.  The fact that a new trial date has been set means the state is not ready to do that, yet.

“So they offer him some sort of plea bargain, he has not taken it,” she said.  “It's a stalemate.  They set a trial date, but as we get closer to Ofc. Goodson's trial I imagine things will change.”

And Wood says there are ways the prosecution could compel porter to testify, without violating his constitutional rights.

“They could ask him only certain questions, so that he's not incriminating himself. Because his right against self-incrimination is not that he can't incriminate others,” she said.