BALTIMORE, June 9 (UPI) -- The third of six Baltimore Police Department officers to stand trial in the death of Freddie Gray a year ago went on trial Thursday, and one of the first orders of business for the defense was to request the criminal charges be dropped.
Caesar Goodson, Jr., faces numerous charges relating to Gray's controversial April 2015 death -- including second-degree murder, second-degree assault, misconduct, involuntary manslaughter, negligent vehicular manslaughter and reckless endangerment. He was the driver of the police van that transported Gray to the police station after his arrest.
On Thursday, the trial began with defense attorneys requesting the charges against Goodson be thrown out, based partly on allegations that prosecutors withheld details about authorities' interview with a potential witness who also rode in the van with Gray before his death.
Prosecutors dismissed the complaint, saying the interview produced nothing of value, and argued they didn't need to disclose the interview because they do not plan to call the individual as a witness at trial.
Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry G. Williams refused to toss the charges, but he did scold prosecutors for violating trial rules. However, he determined that the trial would remain on schedule and begin Thursday.
The judge had ordered prosecutors to turn over all of their evidence to defense attorneys, in a process called discovery, by the end of business Monday. The contention over the interview was raised after Williams ordered the related documents unsealed, WBAL-TV reported.
In their opening remarks Thursday, prosecutors alleged that Goodson, 46, gave Gray an intentionally "rough ride," saying that video evidence shows him running a stop sign and crossing over the center line, The Baltimore Sun reported.
Defense attorney Andrew Graham, though, responded by arguing that prosecutors will not be able to prove their case. He also said the trial will show the medical examiner first believed that Gray's death had been a freak accident.
Gray, 25, was arrested on April 12, 2015, after he was spotted by three bicycle-mounted police officers acting suspiciously in a low-rent Baltimore neighborhood. After a brief pursuit, police said Gray was found to be in possession of a switchblade-type knife.
Officers arrested Gray and placed him inside the van for transport. During the trip, Gray mysteriously suffered a severe spinal injury, was hospitalized, and died a week later. His death touched off a wave of anti-police brutality activism and demonstrations nationwide.
If convicted, Goodson could spend decades in prison. The murder charge alone carries a maximum penalty of 30 years.
Goodson is the third of six involved officers to stand trial. The prosecution of officer William Porter was interrupted by a mistrial in December, and officer Edward Nero was acquitted last month following a bench trial. The other three are scheduled to stand trial in July and October.