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Maryland High Court: Officer William Porter Must Testify Against Fellow Officers

Day 48/365

After nearly two months of deliberation, the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled on Tuesday, March 7 that Officer William Porter could be called by the prosecution to testify against the other five officers on trial for the death of Freddie Gray, who died in police custody last April.

In January, Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams ruled that Porter would not have to testify against officers Edward Nero and Garrett Miller and Lt. Brian Rice. Maryland’s highest court reversed this ruling, and rejected the defense’s request to block Porter from testifying against officer Caesar Goodson and Sgt. Alicia White.

This ruling is an important win for the prosecution, particularly in their case against Caesar Goodson, who drove the police van that made several stops with Gray in the backseat. Goodson is facing the highest charges of all the officers, second-degree murder, and the prosecution has shared that Porter’s testimony will be key in their case against the officer.

Prior to the ruling, Porter’s defense claimed that it violated Porter’s Fifth Amendment right to force him to testify when he still has to go through a trial himself — his first trial ended in a hung jury in December. This ruling is unprecedented in the state of Maryland, therefore it remains to be seen if Porter’s defense team will try to appeal the decision in the U.S. Supreme Court.

This decision begins to move along the stalled case, with new trial dates to be chosen for the remaining five officers within the next few days. Judiciary spokeswoman Terri Charles shared that the trial of Lt. Brian Rice has been re-scheduled to April 13, but that this is still subject to change.

Photo courtesy of Brian Turner/Flickr

The Baltimore Sun and The Washington Post contributed to this report.

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Maryland High Court: Officer William Porter Must Testify Against Fellow Officers