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Defense Gets Its Turn in Porter Trial

P. Kenneth Burns

Defense attorneys for police Officer William Porter are to begin presenting their case Wednesday.

Porter is charged with involuntary manslaughter, assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment in the April death of Freddie Gray.  Gray, 25, died from a broken neck he suffered while being transported in a police van to the Western District police station.

Prosecutors say Porter’s failure to get medical help or buckle Gray in with a seatbelt amounted to criminal negligence. He is the first of six officers to be tried in the case.

Before prosecutors rested their case Tuesday, Baltimore Police DNA expert Thomas Hebert testified that Gray's blood was found on a bench, a wall and a seatbelt inside the police van.

Prosecutors also called Dr. Michael Lyman, a professor at Columbia College in Missouri, as an expert on police procedures.

Lyman testified that Baltimore Police policies requiring detainees to be put in a seatbelt while being transported are consistent with other departments nationally.  He added that every police officer – not just officers who are doing the transporting - has a duty to make sure detainees are safe.

University of Maryland Law Professor Doug Colbert said Lyman’s testimony boosted the state’s case against Porter.

“That tied together evidence that was necessary for the prosecution to be able to argue that Officer Porter had a duty to, both, protect Mr. Gray inside the van through seat belts but also had an obligation or duty for him to seek medical attention,” Colbert said.

Associated Press contributed to this report.