Freddie Gray case thrusts prosecutor Marilyn Mosby into spotlight

By Danielle Haynes
Baltimore State Attorney Marilyn Mosby. Photo courtesy of Marilyn Mosby/Facebook
Baltimore State Attorney Marilyn Mosby. Photo courtesy of Marilyn Mosby/Facebook

BALTIMORE, May 1 (UPI) -- Marilyn Mosby is the youngest state attorney in the United States and now, just four months into the job, she's also the most visible.

Mosby, 35, resolutely announced criminal charges Friday against six Baltimore police officers for the death of Freddie Gray.


The charges came surprisingly early, just one day after the Baltimore Police Department completed its investigation and handed over the case to the state attorney's office. Mosby said none of the information she received from the police was a surprise because her office completed an investigation simultaneously.

"I heard your call for 'no justice, no peace,' " she said. "Your peace is sincerely needed as I work to deliver justice on behalf of this young man."

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Though she has been a vocal critic of police brutality -- she promised reforms in her campaign in November -- she also comes from a long line of law enforcement. She told Baltimore Magazine in January she comes from five generations of police officers, and her grandfather helped found the first association for black police officers in Massachusetts.


"My grandfather, my uncles, my mother, my father -- I have five generations of police officers. I know that the majority of police officers are really hard-working officers who are risking their lives day in and day out, but those really bad ones who go rogue do a disservice to the officers who are risking their lives and taking time away from their families," she said in the interview.

"Police brutality is completely inexcusable. I'm going to apply justice fairly, even to those who wear a badge," she said during an earlier campaign speech.

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Mosby's fans say that dichotomy of interests makes her the perfect person for this particular job despite others criticizing her young age and lack of experience.

"She has a natural affinity for police officers and law enforcement types, and at the same time, she is aware of the incredible number of complaints against the Baltimore city police department," Richard Woods, a Baltimore-based attorney, told NBC News. "It was important to have somebody who was willing to look at it from both sides, and Marilyn Mosby fit the bill."


Others are not so sure she should be handling the Gray case.

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A Fraternal Order of Police lodge in Baltimore sent a letter to Mosby on Friday asking her to recuse herself due to conflict of interest.

"Not one of the officers involved in this tragic situation left home in the morning with the anticipation that someone with whom they interacted would not go home that night," said the letter, signed by Gene Ryan, president of the lodge. "As tragic as this situation is, none of the officers involved are responsible for the death of Mr. Gray."

"I have very deep concerns about the many conflicts of interest presented by your office conducting an investigation in this case," the letter continues, pointing to donations Mosby received from the Gray family attorney, William Murphy.

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"Most importantly, it is clear that your husband's political future will be directly impacted, for better or worse, by the outcome of your investigation," the letter continued. "In order to avoid any appearance of impropriety or a violation of the Professional Rules of Professional Responsibility, I ask that you appoint a special prosecutor to determine whether or not any charges should be filed."

Mosby first became interested in a career in criminal justice as a child when her 17-year-old cousin was mistaken for a drug dealer and was killed outside her Boston home by another 17-year-old. She received her undergraduate degree from Tuskegee University in Alabama, where she met her husband, Nick Mosby, who serves on the Baltimore City Council. Mosby later graduated from Boston College Law School at which time she worked as assistant state attorney with the Baltimore state attorney's office.


Mosby then worked as field counsel for Liberty Mutual Insurance before being elected Baltimore state attorney in November. She defeated incumbent Gregg Bernstein.

In her interview with Baltimore Magazine, Mosby suggested a few reforms to the city's criminal justice system, including body cameras for all officers and a program to help first-time felony offenders get good jobs out of prison. With calls from protesters to overhaul the system, she's got a big responsibility on her shoulders.

"The fact of the matter is that I don't think that I'm going to go in and change the world, but I don't go into any sort of endeavor believing that I can't be successful," she said. "A lot of people told me that I couldn't run for state's attorney, that I couldn't run against an incumbent with powerful backers who outraised me 4 to 1.

"They said that I was too young, too inexperienced. If I allowed that to define my purpose, I wouldn't be in the position that I'm in. I honestly believe that I'm following my passion, which has always been to reform the criminal justice system."

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