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Judge shuffles deck in Freddie Gray trials

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Posted at 7:01 PM, Mar 16, 2016
and last updated 2018-12-31 17:00:15-05

The trials of those accused in the death of Freddie Gray will start in early May and finish in October.

Related: Trial dates announced for officers in Freddie Gray case

First up will be one of the arresting officers, Edward Nero. It was not the order the state wanted, as it made one last argument before Judge Barry Williams. The state wanted to retry Officer William Porter first, an argument the state lost.

"I think the state stated its preference for the order in which it would like to prosecute the officers. I also think that the state will be ready to present evidence against Officer Nero," said University of Maryland Law School professor Doug Colbert.

Officer Nero will be followed by the wagon driver Caesar Goodson, Lieutenant Brian Rice, Officer Garrett Miller, the retrial for Officer Porter and lastly the trial of Sergeant Alicia White.

For attorneys following these cases, order matters. Having to try what many consider the state's weakest case first is a tough spot for the prosecution.

"Certainly the case against Nero from the evidence we've been presented and those of us that have been observing the case suggest that Officer Nero and Miller for that matter are much less culpable…,” Attorney Warren Alperstein said, “Therefore the state is facing an uphill battle in my opinion."

Like in baseball, momentum is only as good as your next case. Some say now the state risks following up the December mistrial of Porter with the possibility of an acquittal for Nero.

Others feel while not an optimal order, the state will be ready for Nero in May.

While there was no explanation as to why the officers will be tried in this specific order, Colbert says the May start date of these successive cases could be to avoid anniversaries of the Freddie Gray injury, death, funeral and subsequent riots.

"And that is why it is understandable why there would be some delay until the next case is tried but that explanation ought to be provided to the public so that they understand the importance of waiting until after April to hold the first case," he said. 

But a lot of other factors could have gone into determining the order of these trials; schedules of attorneys, witnesses or even the judge's preference could have affected scheduling.

There is no explanation, all we do know is that Edward Nero will be next up at Courthouse East on May 10.