Officer trials in Freddie Gray death will stay in Baltimore

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Police in Freddie Gray Case Will Be Tried in Baltimore

BALTIMORE (AP) -- The trials for six police officers charged in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray will be held in Baltimore, a judge ruled Thursday, saying it would be nearly impossible to find a place not inundated by publicity about the high-profile case.

Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams dismissed arguments from the officers' attorneys, who said the days of riots, protests and citywide curfews would make it difficult to choose unbiased jurors in the city.

The defense also argued the city's $6.4 million settlement with Gray's family sent a message that the officers were guilty, but the judge said the settlement doesn't affect the criminal trials.

See photos from outside today's ruling:

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Baltimore, Officers charged in death of Freddie Gray
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Officer trials in Freddie Gray death will stay in Baltimore
This photo provided by the Baltimore Police Department on Friday, May 1, 2015 shows, top row from left, Caesar R. Goodson Jr., Garrett E. Miller and Edward M. Nero, and bottom row from left, William G. Porter, Brian W. Rice and Alicia D. White, the six police officers charged with felonies ranging from assault to murder in the death of Freddie Gray. (Baltimore Police Department via AP)
BALTIMORE, MD- SEPTEMBER 02: Several protesters march and rally in downtown Baltimore. Some even blocked intersections impeding traffic. Today is the first hearing for six Baltimore police officers charged in the death Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Maryland on September 02, 2015. (Photo by Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD- SEPTEMBER 02: Several protesters march and rally in downtown Baltimore. Some even blocked intersections impeding traffic. Today is the first hearing for six Baltimore police officers charged in the death Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Maryland on September 02, 2015. (Photo by Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 02: City Sheriff's deputies form a perimeter around State's Attorney for Baltimore Marilyn Mosby (C) as she leaves the Baltimore City Circuit Courthouse East where pre-trial hearings were held for six police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray September 2, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Earlier this year Gray, 25, suffered a severe spinal cord injury while in police custody and later died. His funeral was followed by rioting, looting and arson. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD- SEPTEMBER 02: Kwame Rose is arrested after he and several other protesters blocked various intersections in downtown Baltimore. The first hearing for six Baltimore police officers charged in the death Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Maryland on September 02, 2015. (Photo by Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 02: A small and peaceful group of demonstrators gather to protest in front of the Baltimore City Circuit Courthouse East where pre-trial hearings will be held for six police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray September 2, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Earlier this year Gray, 25, suffered a severe spinal cord injury while in police custody and later died. His funeral was followed by rioting, looting and arson. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 02: A Baltimore City Sheriff's deputy moves among a small crowd of peaceful demonstrators in front of the Baltimore City Circuit Courthouse East where pre-trial hearings will be held for six police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray September 2, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Earlier this year Gray, 25, suffered a severe spinal cord injury while in police custody and later died. His funeral was followed by rioting, looting and arson. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 02: A small and peacful group of demonstrators gather to protest in front of the Baltimore City Circuit Courthouse East where pre-trial hearings will be held for six police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray September 2, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Earlier this year Gray, 25, suffered a severe spinal cord injury while in police custody and later died. His funeral was followed by rioting, looting and arson. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Marilyn Mosby, Baltimore state's attorney, speaks during a media availability, Friday, May 1, 2015 in Baltimore. Mosby announced criminal charges against all six officers suspended after Freddie Gray suffered a fatal spinal injury in police custody. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Billy Murphy, an attorney who represents the family of Freddie Gray, stands between Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, seated far left, and Gov. Larry Hogan, center, as Hogan signs a bill to create a commission to study the implementation of police body cameras, Tuesday, May 12, 2015 in Annapolis, Md. Murphy said: The bills Hogan is signing Tuesday were approved before the death of Freddie Gray, who was fatally injured in Baltimore police custody last month. (AP Photo/Brian Witte)
Freddie Gray's stepfather Richard Shipley, right, speaks, as attorney Billy Murphy stands nearby, during a press availability at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture, Friday, May 1, 2015 in Baltimore. State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced criminal charges against all six officers suspended after Freddie Gray suffered a fatal spinal injury while in police custody in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Freddie Gray's stepfather Richard Shipley speaks during a press availability at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture, Friday, May 1, 2015, in Baltimore. State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced criminal charges against all six officers suspended after Freddie Gray suffered a fatal spinal injury while in police custody in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Marilyn Mosby, Baltimore state's attorney, speaks during a media availability, Friday, May 1, 2015 in Baltimore. Mosby announced criminal charges against all six officers suspended after Freddie Gray suffered a fatal spinal injury while in police custody. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Marilyn Mosby, Baltimore state's attorney, speaks during a media availability, Friday, May 1, 2015 in Baltimore. Mosby announced criminal charges against all six officers suspended after Freddie Gray suffered a fatal spinal injury while in police custody. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Charvae Day, right, and Renay Battle react on Friday, May 1, 2015, after State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby announced criminal charges against all six officers suspended after Freddie Gray suffered a fatal spinal injury while in police custody in Baltimore. Mosby announced the stiffest charge, second-degree depraved heart murder, against the driver of the police van. Other officers faced charges of involuntary manslaughter, assault and illegal arrest. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Marilyn Mosby, with folder, Baltimore state's attorney, departs after a media availability, Friday, May 1, 2015 in Baltimore. Mosby announced criminal charges against all six officers suspended after Freddie Gray suffered a fatal spinal injury while in police custody.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake speaks during a media availability at City Hall, Friday, May 1, 2015 in Baltimore. Rawlings-Blake says five of six officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray are in custody. State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby announced criminal charges Friday against all six officers. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
President Barack Obama pauses as he answers a question about the situation in Baltimore during a meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Friday, May 1, 2015, with persecuted journalists to mark World Press Freedom Day. The president Barack Obama said it's "absolutely vital" that the truth about what happened to Freddie Gray comes out. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake arrives to speak at a media availability at City Hall, Friday, May 1, 2015 in Baltimore. Rawlings-Blake says five of six officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray are in custody. State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby announced criminal charges Friday against all six officers. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 01: Protesters march through the streets in support of Maryland state attorney Marilyn Mosby's announcement that charges would be filed against Baltimore police officers in the death of Freddie Gray on May 1, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Gray died in police custody after being arrested on April 12, 2015. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 01: Protesters march through the streets in support of Maryland state attorney Marilyn Mosby's announcement that charges would be filed against Baltimore police officers in the death of Freddie Gray on May 1, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Gray died in police custody after being arrested on April 12, 2015. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 01: Protesters march on North Avenue after Baltimore authorities released a report on the death of Freddie Gray on May 1, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Marilyn Mosby, Baltimore City state's attorney, ruled the death of Freddie Gray a homicide and that criminal charges will be filed. Gray, 25, was arrested for possessing a switch blade knife April 12 outside the Gilmor Houses housing project on Baltimore's west side. According to his attorney, Gray died a week later in the hospital from a severe spinal cord injury he received while in police custody. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Freddie Gray's twin sister Fredricka Gray sits during a press availability at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture, Friday, May 1, 2015 in Baltimore. State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby announced criminal charges against all six officers suspended after Freddie Gray suffered a fatal spinal injury while in police custody in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Freddie Gray's stepfather Richard Shipley, right, sits during a press availability at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture, Friday, May 1, 2015 in Baltimore. State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby announced Friday criminal charges against all six officers suspended after Freddie Gray suffered a fatal spinal injury while in police custody in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Adrian Roberson, right, celebrates on Friday, May 1, 2015, after State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby announced criminal charges against all six officers suspended after Freddie Gray suffered a fatal spinal injury while in police custody in Baltimore. Mosby announced the stiffest charge, second-degree depraved heart murder, against the driver of the police van. Other officers faced charges of involuntary manslaughter, assault and illegal arrest. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Police officers stand guard with the War Memorial behind, Friday, May 1, 2015 in Baltimore. State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby announced criminal charges Friday, against all six officers suspended after Freddie Gray suffered a fatal spinal injury in police custody in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
The Rev. Pamela Coleman, center speaks on a city bus on Friday, May 1, 2015, after State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby announced criminal charges against all six officers suspended after Freddie Gray suffered a fatal spinal injury while in police custody in Baltimore. Mosby announced the stiffest charge, second-degree depraved heart murder, against the driver of the police van. Other officers faced charges of involuntary manslaughter, assault and illegal arrest. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Dominique Cunningham celebrates on Friday, May 1, 2015, after State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby announced criminal charges against all six officers suspended after Freddie Gray suffered a fatal spinal injury while in police custody in Baltimore. Mosby announced the stiffest charge, second-degree depraved heart murder, against the driver of the police van. Other officers faced charges of involuntary manslaughter, assault and illegal arrest. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Rabbi Yerachmiel Shapiro, left, and other citizens celebrate on Friday, May 1, 2015, after State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby announced criminal charges against all six officers suspended after Freddie Gray suffered a fatal spinal injury while in police custody in Baltimore. Mosby announced the stiffest charge, second-degree depraved heart murder, against the driver of the police van. Other officers faced charges of involuntary manslaughter, assault and illegal arrest. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Meach Johnson celebrates on Friday, May 1, 2015, after State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby announced criminal charges against all six officers suspended after Freddie Gray suffered a fatal spinal injury while in police custody in Baltimore. Mosby announced the stiffest charge, second-degree depraved heart murder, against the driver of the police van. Other officers faced charges of involuntary manslaughter, assault and illegal arrest. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
A man shakes hands with a National Guard soldier outside City Hall, Friday, May 1, 2015 in Baltimore. State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby announced criminal charges Friday, against all six officers suspended after Freddie Gray suffered a fatal spinal injury in police custody. Mosby announced the stiffest charge, second-degree depraved heart murder, against the driver of the police van. Other officers faced charges of involuntary manslaughter, assault and illegal arrest. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Protesters link arms while marching toward City Hall to demonstrate the police-custody death of Freddie Gray, Thursday, April 30, 2015, in Baltimore. Baltimore police say they have turned over their criminal investigation to a prosecutor who will decide whether charges are warranted in the death of Freddie Gray. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 02: A man tears up on the street at North Ave., and Pennsylvania Ave., in West Baltimore a day after Baltimore authorities released a report on the death of Freddie Gray, May 2, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Marilyn Mosby, Baltimore City state's attorney, ruled the death of Freddie Gray a homicide and that criminal charges would be filed against six Baltimore City Police officers. Gray, 25, was arrested for possessing a switch blade knife on April 12 outside the Gilmor Homes housing project on Baltimore's west side. According to his attorney, Gray died a week later in the hospital from a severe spinal cord injury he received while in police custody. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 02: People participate in a dance party on North Ave., a day after Baltimore authorities released a report on the death of Freddie Gray, May 2, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Marilyn Mosby, Baltimore City state's attorney, ruled the death of Freddie Gray a homicide and that criminal charges would be filed against six Baltimore City Police officers. Gray, 25, was arrested for possessing a switch blade knife on April 12 outside the Gilmor Homes housing project on Baltimore's west side. According to his attorney, Gray died a week later in the hospital from a severe spinal cord injury he received while in police custody. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 02: People participate in a dance party on North Ave., on the street a day after Baltimore authorities released a report on the death of Freddie Gray, May 2, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Marilyn Mosby, Baltimore City state's attorney, ruled the death of Freddie Gray a homicide and that criminal charges would be filed against six Baltimore City Police officers. Gray, 25, was arrested for possessing a switch blade knife on April 12 outside the Gilmor Homes housing project on Baltimore's west side. According to his attorney, Gray died a week later in the hospital from a severe spinal cord injury he received while in police custody. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 02: Protesters march on the street from City Hall a day after Baltimore authorities released a report on the death of Freddie Gray, May 2, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Marilyn Mosby, Baltimore City state's attorney, ruled the death of Freddie Gray a homicide and that criminal charges would be filed against six Baltimore City Police officers. Gray, 25, was arrested for possessing a switch blade knife on April 12 outside the Gilmor Homes housing project on Baltimore's west side. According to his attorney, Gray died a week later in the hospital from a severe spinal cord injury he received while in police custody. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 01: Protesters march through the streets in support of Maryland state attorney Marilyn Mosby's announcement that charges would be filed against Baltimore police officers in the death of Freddie Gray on May 1, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Gray died in police custody after being arrested on April 12, 2015. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
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"Information is ubiquitous, and every person in the city and state can choose to inundate themselves," Williams said.

Potential jurors may be asked whether they have been influenced by the coverage, the judge said. As his decision was relayed outside the courthouse, a group of about two dozen protesters cheered and started chanting: "The trial stays here."

Baltimore sheriff's deputies stood nearby. At least one demonstrator was arrested the hearing started.

Gray was a 25-year-old black man who died after being fatally injured while in police custody in April. Prosecutors have said officers had no reason to stop or chase after Gray, and falsely accused him of having an illegal switchblade when in fact it was a legal pocketknife.

Gray was handcuffed, put in a van and not strapped down with a seatbelt, a direct violation of department policy, and officers ignored his repeated pleas for medical attention, even rerouting the van to pick up another passenger, prosecutors have said. Gray died April 19, a week after his arrest.

His death prompted protests and rioting that shook the city and caused millions of dollars in damage, and has since come to symbolize the broken relationship between the police and the public in Baltimore, and the treatment of black men by police in America.

Attorney Ivan Bates, who argued on behalf of all six officers, said the city's settlement announced earlier this week sways prospective jurors and indicates "these officers are guilty, and if they are not guilty, why are we paying them $6.4 million?"

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake acknowledged the settlement before a trial was unusual, but she said it was important to help bring closure to Gray's family. She said she was confident the judge made the right decision to hold the trials in Baltimore.

"It will allow the city to focus on healing," she said.

Prosecutors said high-profile trials such as the Boston Marathon bomber and the D.C. sniper in Montgomery County, Maryland, were successfully held locally. The only circumstance under which a change of venue is appropriate is in "a small community where you have an armed lynch mob at the door," Chief Deputy State's Attorney Michael Schatzow said.

In his argument, Schatzow said the riots were "confined to a relatively small geographic area" and not widespread enough to affect all Baltimore residents.

Andrew Levy, a Baltimore defense attorney and an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland School of Law, said a change of venue was unlikely at this early stage in the proceedings, but he said the defense might raise the issue again when they're questioning potential jurors. The judge said he would entertain those arguments at that time.

Picking a jury will be a challenge, Levy said, because while jurors may believe they can be impartial about a highly publicized case, they may also fear for their safety in the event of an acquittal.

"It's not just the concern that they've already formed an opinion in the case," Levy said. "In a way, they have a vested interest in the outcome."

Samuel Walker, a criminal justice professor at the University of Nebraska said it's hard to ignore the fact that this is the central event in the city since the spring.

"It's very likely that many people will have formed opinions. It's just a fact of life. I think keeping the door open for reconsideration is extremely important," he said.

Defense attorneys estimated the number of eligible jurors in the city at about 276,000.

The trials are tentatively scheduled to begin Oct. 13.

The six officers were indicted in May and face charges ranging from second-degree assault to second-degree murder.

All six officers, including Edward Nero and Garrett Miller, are charged with second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment. Lt. Brian Rice, Sgt. Alicia White and Officer William Porter also face a manslaughter charge, while Officer Caesar Goodson faces the most serious charge of all: second-degree "depraved-heart" murder.

Three of the officers are white. Three are black.

Watch more video coverage:

Freddie Gray's Family To Receive $6.4 Million Settlement
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