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Court delays trials for Baltimore police officers in Freddie Gray case

By
Amy R. Connolly
The trials for the police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray, who died in April in police custody, have been delayed. Pictured: Arthur Johnson holds up a sign in front of the Baltimore City Courthouse as jury deliberations continue in the trial against Baltimore Police officer William Porter in Baltimore, Maryland December 16, 2015. Porter is the first of six police officers to be tried in death of black detainee Freddie Gray from injuries sustained while in police custody. Gray, 25, died a week after suffering a spinal cord injury while being arrested on April 12, 2015. Photo Ken Cedeno/UPI
The trials for the police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray, who died in April in police custody, have been delayed. Pictured: Arthur Johnson holds up a sign in front of the Baltimore City Courthouse as jury deliberations continue in the trial against Baltimore Police officer William Porter in Baltimore, Maryland December 16, 2015. Porter is the first of six police officers to be tried in death of black detainee Freddie Gray from injuries sustained while in police custody. Gray, 25, died a week after suffering a spinal cord injury while being arrested on April 12, 2015. Photo Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

BALTIMORE, Feb. 19 (UPI) -- The trials for six Baltimore police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray, who died in April in police custody, have been delayed while Maryland's highest court determines if one officer can be compelled to testify against the others.

The court is trying to determine whether Baltimore police Officer William Porter can be forced to testify against the five other officers. The Court of Appeals will hear the oral arguments on March 3.

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Prosecutors said they need Porter as a key witness in the case because he was in the transport van the same time as Gray. Porter is contesting the order to testify.

Gray, 25, sustained a fatal spinal injury on April 12 while being driven in a police transport van after his arrest. His death sparked weeks of demonstrations, riots and looting in the city and amplified the Black Lives Matter movement. Prosecutors contend officers did not do enough to get Gray medical aid after he was injured while riding in the back of the van handcuffed but not buckled into a seat.

Porter stood trial last fall but a jury was unable to reach a verdict on involuntary manslaughter, assault and misconduct charges and a mistrial was declared. A retrial is scheduled for later this year.

Jury selection in the trial of one of the officers, Edward Nero, was scheduled to begin Monday. The delay may push back the start of the trials by months.

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