Porter must testify in Freddie Gray cases

Posted at 10:53 AM, Mar 08, 2016
and last updated 2018-12-31 17:20:28-05

The Court of Appeals ruled today that Officer William Porter may be forced to testify against the five other officers accused in the death of Freddie Gray.

Porter’s 5th amendment right not to incriminate himself was at the root of the issue that brought all the players in the Freddie Gray cases to Annapolis late last week.

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While Thursday’s Court of Appeals hearing lasted just two hours, the decision from the seven judges would take just two business days.

"I suspected, I predicted the court would act by the end of April which would be fast for them but they've acted within a week,” said attorney Sheryl Wood who wasn't altogether shocked.

There are five high profile cases pending on this issue of immunity and co-defendants.

Now, it is matter of settled law which Wood says only sharpens a very useful tool in the way prosecutors charge and try defendants throughout the state.

"They wanted to assert their rights under the immunity statute, that they could give a co-defendant immunity as long as they promise not to use that testimony against him. I think it does change the game. Other prosecutors might be bolder as Marilyn Mosby has been here," Wood said.

Meanwhile, now that the Court of Appeals has sided with the state in making Porter testify against the others, it gave the cases back to the circuit court.

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Judge Barry Williams can now set a new trial schedule.

With only Porter's re-trial set for June, the order of the others still matters, but that could be shelved as well.

Local attorneys say Porter's defense still has one more level of appeal if it chooses.

"The defense team will explore an appeal to the Supreme Court,” attorney Warren Alperstein said,  “But that will be based first on whether or not the decision made by the Court of Appeals is grounded or based on a fifth amendment privilege."

An unknown now because the opinion or explanation of why the court ruled the way it did has not been released yet.

Porter's defense team will want to see that before weighing its option of appealing to the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile or until then, the remaining five trials are back in front of Judge Williams and can now move forward.