Verdict in Nero trial to be announced Monday | WYPR

Verdict in Nero trial to be announced Monday

May 24, 2016
Originally published on May 22, 2016 4:36 pm

Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams is to issue Monday his verdict in the trial of police Officer Edward Nero.

Nero has been charged with second degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office in last year’s death of Freddie Gray.

Court is to begin at 10:30 a.m.

Prosecutors say Nero arrested Gray illegally on April 12, 2015, which amounted to assault.  They further allege Nero’s failure to put Gray in a seatbelt led to the broken neck he suffered in the back of a police van while being transported to the Western District station.  And the state called that reckless endangerment.

Gray died from that injury a week later.

Some legal analysts doubt that Nero will be convicted.

Debbie Hines, a former city prosecutor and current trial lawyer in D.C., says the state has failed to prove Nero’s guilt.

“It doesn’t seem like he was really all that involved with the arrest, the detention, stop; whatever of Freddie Gray for there to be a higher criminal standard,” she says.

Defense Attorney Warren Brown goes a step further and says Judge Williams should acquit Nero of the charges.  He referred to Williams asking Assistant Deputy State’s Attorney Janice Bledsoe during closing arguments if every cop is assaulting a suspect by putting them in handcuffs.

Brown says the prosecution’s theory on the illegal arrest could have negative consequences for the city.

“Just imagine the slowdown that would exist in law enforcement in the city which does everybody a disservice,” Brown says.

He says prosecutors are trying to “[fit] a square peg through a round hole” and that State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby did Baltimore a disservice to public safety when she brought the charges against Nero.

Nero could face up to ten years in jail if he’s convicted of the most serious charge; assault.  The other charges, reckless endangerment and two counts of misconduct, each carry a maximum sentence of five years.