The trials for officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray will be delayed as Maryland’s highest court considers an appeal in the matter.
The Maryland Court of Appeals on Thursday ordered the trials put on hold pending a March hearing to determine whether one of the officers should be required to testify against others also charged in the case.
Jury selection for Officer Edward M. Nero’s trial was set to begin Monday but will be delayed along with the remaining trials.
The Court of Appeals will consider whether it is constitutional for Officer William G. Porter to be compelled to testify against Officer Caesar Goodson Jr. and Sgt. Alicia D. White. The court will also consider related legal questions in the cases of Nero, Lt. Brian Rice and Officer Garrett Miller.
Prosecutors want Porter, whose first trial ended in a hung jury in December, to testify against Goodson and White before his own retrial, which is set to begin this summer. The state has said it would grant him immunity and not use statements he had made as a witness against Goodson and White at the retrial.
But Porter’s attorneys have argued that forcing the officer to take the witness stand would violate his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and hurt his chances at a fair retrial.
Attorneys and legal experts say asking a defendant awaiting trial to testify against co-defendants is unprecedented in Maryland, testing the state’s immunity laws.
The Court of Appeals is expected to hear oral arguments in the case March 3.
Gray, 25, suffered a severe neck injury in the back of the police van that Goodson was driving April 12, prosecutors said. Gray died a week later, igniting civil unrest and later rioting in Baltimore. The incident helped fuel the national debate over police-involved deaths of young black men.