Rice Trial: Defense rests, closing arguments Thursday | WYPR

Rice Trial: Defense rests, closing arguments Thursday

Jul 12, 2016

Lt. Brian Rice (left) with his attorney Michael Davey arriving to court Tuesday morning.
Credit P. Kenneth Burns

The defense rested its case Tuesday in the trial of Lt. Brian Rice; the highest ranking officer among six charged in last year’s death of Freddie Gray.

Lawyers for Rice called four witnesses, including two medical experts that testified in the morning.

Dr. Matthew Ammerman, a neurosurgeon said Gray’s injuries happened at one time, “immediately” and not over a period of time as the state’s medical experts contend.

Ammerman also said that the injury happened between the time the van transporting Gray left Penn North and when it arrived at the Western District police station.

Gray suffered a severe spinal injury during that van ride on April 12, 2015, after his arrest.   He died a week later.

Ammerman said it would require “a tremendous amount of force” for the type of injury Gray suffered and that a seat belt would not have prevented Gray’s injury because it would not have restrained enough of his body.

Prosecutors say Gray’s injury resulted from Rice’s failure to place him in a seatbelt in the back of the van.

Former D.C. Medical Examiner Jonathan Arden, another defense expert, provided similar testimony.  He also said that Gray’s death was an accident; opposite the ruling made by Assistant State Medical Examiner Carol Allan.

In other action, Circuit Judge Barry Williams allowed Officer William Porter’s testimony from his trial last December to be admitted into evidence.

Porter, whose trial ended in a hung jury, testified Monday as a prosecution witness under a grant of limited immunity.

Rice’s attorney, Michael Belsky, tried to ask Porter about what happened at the van’s first two stops; the 1700 block of Presbury Street and Mount and Baker streets, on cross-examination. But he couldn’t because prosecutors did not ask about those stops under direct examination.

So, Belsky moved to get Porter’s testimony from his own trial into evidence. Williams granted the request; pointing out Porter would not be available to the defense because Porter, who still faces a new trial in September, could refuse to testify.

Williams allowed the state to include parts of their cross-examination of Porter at his trial as part of their rebuttal to Porter’s account.

Closing arguments are scheduled for 10:00 a.m. Thursday.  Williams said he will render his verdict “sometime thereafter.”