The Maryland Court of Special Appeals issued a stay Monday that halts the trial of Caesar Goodson Jr., the second of six Baltimore police officers charged in connection with the death of Freddie Gray.
The stay concerns the question of whether another of the charged officers, William Porter, can be compelled to testify in Goodson’s trial.
Jury selection in Goodson’s trial was slated to begin Monday, but the stay brings the proceedings to a stop until the issue of Porter’s testimony is resolved.
The order leaves open the possibility for prosecutors to file a motion to remove the stay.
Goodson, who drove the police van carrying Gray, faces the most severe charges in connection with Gray’s death: second-degree depraved-heart murder, which could mean 30 years behind bars if convicted.
Goodson is also charged with involuntary manslaughter; second-degree negligent assault; manslaughter by vehicle (gross negligence); manslaughter by vehicle (criminal negligence); misconduct in office and reckless endangerment. Two of the manslaughter charges and the assault charge are each punishable by up to a decade in prison.
He and five other officers were charged in connection with the April 2015 death of Gray, who suffered a fatal spinal injury after being shackled without a seat belt in the police van.
“Despite stopping for the purpose of checking on Mr. Gray’s condition, at no point did (Goodson) seek nor did he render any medical assistance for Mr. Gray,” prosecutor Marilyn Mosby said last year.
Mistrial in first officer’s case
Porter’s case ended with a mistrial last month. He faces a retrial scheduled for June 13 on charges of involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment.
Last week, Judge Barry Williams ordered Porter to testify in the trials of Goodson and Sgt. Alicia White, under limited immunity granted by prosecutors.
Porter’s attorneys, who argue that forcing him to testify in the other cases would violate his rights, filed an appeal.
The appeals court ruled that Porter did not have to testify until the issue was sorted out. The order did not preclude the Goodson’s trial from moving forward, but only meant that Porter could not testify — at least for the moment.
The appeals court issued a new stay Monday, which did call for the all proceedings in Goodson’s trial to come to a halt.
For now, the next step is for both sides to submit briefs to the appeals court arguing why Porter should or should not be compelled to testify. A hearing will then be set.