Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams will hear closing arguments Thursday in the trial of police Officer Edward Nero who is facing second degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment for his alleged role in the arrest of Freddie Gray.
Gray died April 19, 2015, a week after he was arrested, from a broken neck he suffered while in back of a police van.
Williams told attorneys for the prosecution and the defense they will each have 45 minutes to present their closing arguments.
Legal analyst and defense attorney Warren Brown says presentations will be different because Williams is deciding the case; not a jury.
“The judge even admonished them that in their presentation they can dispense with emotions,” Brown says adding attorneys were also told by Williams they did not need to explain the law to him.
“It will really be a juxtaposition between the facts and the law.”
Prosecutors are expected to argue that Officer Nero illegally pursued and arrested Gray in April of last year. They allege Nero’s failure to put Gray in a seatbelt led to the fatal injury he suffered in the back of a police van.
Defense attorneys counter that Nero touched Gray only to provide medical help and that Gray was being combative during his arrest.
“Specifically, that Officer Miller was the officer who had the physical contact primarily with Freddie Gray,” Alperstein says.
Williams says he will review the testimony and evidence over the weekend and will issue his verdict on Monday. It will be the first verdicts made in the Freddie Gray case.
The first trial in the case – against Officer William Porter – ended with a hung jury. Porter is to be retried in September.
University of Maryland Law Professor Doug Colbert says the prosecution and defense will have strong arguments.
“I think each side will refer both to law and to facts in order to argue that the defendant should be found guilty of some of the charges, at least, or should be found not guilty of the charges,” says Colbert.