Court delays murder trial of officer in Freddie Gray death

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Police Van Driver's Trial Delayed in Freddie Gray Death


(Reuters) - A Maryland appeals court on Monday delayed the murder trial of a Baltimore police officer in the death of black detainee Freddie Gray until it can decide on whether a key witness should testify.

Caesar Goodson Jr.'s trial was to have begun on Monday in a case that fueled a nationwide debate over race and policing in the United States.

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The ruling by the Court of Special Appeals in Annapolis delayed the trial until it can decide whether another William Porter, the Baltimore police officer whose own trial in the Gray case ended in a hung jury in December, could be compelled to testify against Goodson and another officer.

They are among a total of six officers facing trial in Baltimore City Circuit Court for the death of Gray, who died of a broken neck in April after being transported in a police van.

A spokeswoman for Maryland's court system said motions would have to be filed in Goodson's case and oral arguments held before the appeals court could rule on whether Porter will testify. There is no time frame for a decision, she said.

RELATED GALLERY: See photos from William Porter's trial

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William Porter, Freddie Gray cop at court
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Court delays murder trial of officer in Freddie Gray death
Officer William Porter, right, one of six Baltimore city police officers charged in connection to the death of Freddie Gray, arrives at a courthouse as jury deliberations continue in his trial, Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015, in Baltimore Md. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
A demonstrators protest outside of the courthouse after a mistrial was declared in the manslaughter trial of Officer William Porter, one of six Baltimore city police officers charged in connection to the death of Freddie Gray, on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015, in Baltimore Md. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
Demonstrators protest outside of the courthouse after a mistrial was declared in the manslaughter trial of Officer William Porter, one of six Baltimore city police officers charged in connection to the death of Freddie Gray, on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015, in Baltimore Md. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
A demonstrator is detained outside of the courthouse after a mistrial of Officer William Porter, one of six Baltimore city police officers charged in connection to the death of Freddie Gray, on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
Sheriff officers stand guard in front of the courthouse main entrance as demonstrators protest outside of the courthouse after a mistrial of Officer William Porter, one of six Baltimore city police officers charged in connection to the death of Freddie Gray, on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
Officers from the Baltimore Sheriff's Department arrest a protestor across the street from Courthouse East after the announcement of a hung jury in the trial of Officer William Porter in the Freddie Gray case, on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015. (Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun/TNS via Getty Images)
Officers from the Baltimore Sheriff's Department try to secure the area as they arrest a protestor across the street from Courthouse East after the announcement of a hung jury in the trial of Officer William Porter in the Freddie Gray case, on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015. (Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun/TNS via Getty Images)
Protesters react outside the Baltimore City Circuit Courthouse after the hung-jury was announced in the trial of Police Officer William Porter, in Baltimore, Maryland on December 16, 2015. The manslaughter trial of a Baltimore policeman accused over the death in custody of African-American Freddie Gray was declared a mistrial after the jury failed to a reach a verdict, putting the city on edge. AFP PHOTO/ MOLLY RILEY / AFP / MOLLY RILEY (Photo credit should read MOLLY RILEY/AFP/Getty Images)
Richard Shipley, Freddie Gray'stepfather, left, with Gray's mother Gloria Darden and lawyer Billy Murphy speaks with the media after a mistrial was declared in the manslaughter trial of Officer William Porter, one of six Baltimore city police officers charged in connection to the death of Freddie Gray on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015, in Baltimore Md. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 16: Baltimore police Officer William G. Porter arrives for trial at the Baltimore City Circuit Courthouse East, December 16, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. The jury is in its second full day of deliberations in Porter's trial, which is the first of six trials of police officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - NOVEMBER 30: William Porter, one of six Baltimore city police officers charged in connection to the death of Freddie Gray earlier in the year, walks to a courthouse for jury selection in his trial on November 30, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Porter is the first to go to trial in the death of Gray who died from an injury incured in the back of a police transport van on April 19. (Photo by Patrick Semansky-Pool/Getty Images)
FILE - This file photo provided by the Baltimore Police Department on Friday, May 1, 2015 shows William G. Porter, one of six police officers charged with felonies ranging from assault to murder in the death of Freddie Gray. Porter took the stand Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015 in his own defense. If convicted on all charges, the maximum penalty he faces is about 25 years. (Baltimore Police Department via AP, FILE)
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)
A protester stands in front of Courthouse East in Baltimore prior to the start of day 9 of the trial of Officer William Porter on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015. (Jerry Jackson/Baltimore Sun/TNS via Getty Images)
William Porter, right, one of six Baltimore city police officers charged in connection to the death of Freddie Gray, arrives at a courthouse with his attorney Joseph Murtha for jury selection in his trial, Monday, Nov. 30, 2015, in Baltimore. Porter faces charges of manslaughter, assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office. (Rob Carr/Pool Photo via AP)
Officer William Porter enters Courthouse East in Baltimore for the start of day 9 of his trial relating to the death of Freddie Gray on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015. (Jerry Jackson/Baltimore Sun/TNS via Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD NOVEMBER 30: A handful of protesters gather outside the Baltimore Circuit Court on Monday, November 30, 2015, in Baltimore, MD. Today marks the first day of the trial of Baltimore officer William G. Porter, 26, who is one of six police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD NOVEMBER 30: Tawanda Jones, whose brother Tyrone West, was killed by police in Baltimore, lets her voice be heard outside the Baltimore Circuit Court on Monday, November 30, 2015, in Baltimore, MD. Today marks the first day of the trial of Baltimore officer William G. Porter, 26, who is one of six police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - NOVEMBER 30: William Porter, one of six Baltimore city police officers charged in connection to the death of Freddie Gray earlier in the year, walks to a courthouse for jury selection in his trial on November 30, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Porter is the first to go to trial in the death of Gray who died from an injury incured in the back of a police transport van on April 19. (Photo by Patrick Semansky-Pool/Getty Images)
Officer William Porter enters Courthouse East in Baltimore for the start of day 9 of his trial relating to the death of Freddie Gray on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015. (Jerry Jackson/Baltimore Sun/TNS via Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD NOVEMBER 30: A handful of protesters gather outside the Baltimore Circuit Court on Monday, November 30, 2015, in Baltimore, MD. Today marks the first day of the trial of Baltimore officer William G. Porter, 26, who is one of six police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
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Goodson faces the most serious charge, second-degree depraved heart murder, and jury selection had been scheduled to start on Monday.

Goodson, 46, was the driver of the police transport van where Gray, who was arrested after fleeing police, suffered a broken neck. He died a week later.

Baltimore, a majority black city of 620,000 people, exploded in protests and arson after Gray's death. The unrest followed other police killings of black men in New York and Ferguson, Missouri.

Porter's trial on involuntary manslaughter and other charges ended in hung jury in December. Prosecutors want him as a witness against Goodson and last week Judge Barry Williams ordered Porter to testify since he had been offered immunity from prosecution for what he might say on the stand.

The Court of Special Appeals agreed on Friday to a motion by Porter's lawyers to temporarily halt William's order.

Porter has said he will invoke his constitutional right against self-incrimination if called to testify. His retrial is scheduled for June.

Goodson, who is black, faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted of the murder charge. In Maryland, depraved heart murder is a killing done while acting with extreme disregard for human life.

He also is accused of manslaughter, three counts of assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment.

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