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May 15, 2015 5:57 PM

Baltimore prosecutors in Freddie Gray case seek gag order

The Associated Press

BALTIMORE (AP) Baltimore prosecutors are seeking a gag order as they pursue a criminal case against six city officers in the case of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old man who died a week after suffering a spinal injury while in police custody.

A court document that references the gag order, obtained by The Associated Press, is dated Wednesday. Assistant State's Attorney Antonio Gioia wrote that the gag order motion was mailed to defense attorneys.

Rochelle Ritchie, a spokeswoman for State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby, confirmed Friday the office is seeking a gag order. She declined to provide further details.

A gag order typically prevents attorneys and witnesses from publicly commenting on or releasing information about a particular case.

Mosby announced the charges, which range from second-degree misdemeanor assault to "depraved-heart" murder, in a lengthy news conference one day after receiving an investigative report from police. The May 1 announcement came after more than a week of protests that on two occasions gave way to rioting, prompting Democratic Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to implement a curfew and Republican Gov. Larry Hogan to declare a state of emergency for the city.

Attorneys for five of the six officers have not spoken publicly about the case since charges were filed. Ivan Bates and Tony Garcia, who represent Sgt. Alicia White, gave a news conference Wednesday to defend White and criticize the prosecution.

"I can say emphatically when this trial is complete and all the evidence is laid bare, you'll see perhaps justice wasn't the only thing the state's attorney was attempting to accomplish here," Garcia said at the event, "and that perhaps you'll see that there's a fine line between fame and infamy."

The defense attorneys have filed numerous motions calling into question the basis for the charges, and whether Mosby is objective.

Attorneys representing two officers who face only misdemeanor charges earlier filed a motion to inspect a knife found on Gray on April 12, the day he was arrested. In charging documents for Gray, Officer Garrett Miller wrote that the knife was illegal under a city ordinance banning spring-activated knives. But in charging the officers, Mosby said the knife was not a switchblade, is therefore legal under Maryland state law and Gray's arrest was unlawful.

Additionally, attorneys for the officers have filed a joint motion arguing Mosby should be replaced with an independent prosecutor because of what they call "conflicts of interest." The motion argues that part of the reason she acted so swiftly was to quash protests that gave way to violence in West Baltimore, where Gray was arrested and where Mosby's husband is a city councilman. Other claimed conflicts of interest outlined in court papers include Mosby's political relationship with Billy Murphy, a defense attorney who represents the Gray family, and who donated $5,000 to Mosby's campaign. Murphy also once represented Mosby regarding a complaint made to the Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland about statements she made during her campaign.

The officers are slated to appear in Baltimore District Court on May 27. However, the case could be transferred to Circuit Court before that date. Mosby has indicated in motions that she plans to take the case to a grand jury to seek indictments, which would eliminate the need for a preliminary hearing in the lower court.

In a joint statement issued Friday, the defense attorneys said it is "imperative that the public understand the facts and the law beyond the bald allegations publicized by Ms. Mosby." The charges, the attorneys said, "have yet to be supported by a single piece of evidence. We have made one simple repeated request: Show us the evidence."


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