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Baltimore police Lt. Brian Rice elects bench trial in Freddie Gray case

By Allen Cone
Baltimore police Lt. Brian Rice elects bench trial in Freddie Gray case
Brian W. Rice is one of six Baltimore police officers charged in the April 2015 death of Freddie Gray. On Tuesday, he opted for a bench trial. Photo courtesy of Baltimore Police Department

BALTIMORE, July 5 (UPI) -- Baltimore police Lt. Brian Rice, highest-ranking officer arrested in the death of Freddie Gray last year, opted for bench trial during pretrial motions hearing Tuesday.

Rice, 42, is seeking a bench trial -- rather than one decided by a jury -- like two fellow officers who were acquitted.

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Circuit Judge Barry G. Williams will determine Rice's fate. Williams previously cleared officers Edward Nero and Caesar Goodson.

The trial is scheduled to start at 9:30 a.m. Thursday with opening statements.

Rice is free on $350,000 bail after pleading not guilty to involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, two counts of misconduct in office and reckless endangerment.

In the most serious charge, he is accused of failing to secure Gray with a seat belt when he helped load him into the arrest van.

Rice was on bike patrol when Gray fled police, and he called out for other officers to help pursue him.

Gray, 25, died on April 19, 2015, one week after he sustained a neck injury while in the van.

Three other officers are awaiting to go on trial.

Prosecutors have yet to secure a conviction in any of the cases that went to trial.

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Goodson, the transport van driver, was found not guilty in June on charges that included second-degree depraved heart murder. Nero was not guilty of misdemeanor charges in May.

William Porter is set for retrial in September after his case ended in a hung jury in December.

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