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John Lee

    

A community organization wants the Baltimore City Council to put the brakes on the multi-billion dollar Port Covington project. Baltimore United in Leadership Development, or BUILD, called Tuesday for an independent financial analysis to be completed first. 

Rice Trial: Defense rests, closing arguments Thursday

Jul 12, 2016
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.

Prosecutor challenges rise during Rice trial

Jul 12, 2016
Baltimore Police

The dismissal of the second degree assault charge against Lt. Brian Rice is just another setback for prosecutors in the Freddie Gray case who have yet to secure a conviction through three trials.

Officer William Porter’s trial ended in a hung jury last December.  He is to be re-tried in September.  Officers Edward Nero and Caesar Goodson were acquitted by Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams in May and June, respectively.

And prosecutors have been having a hard time proving Rice bears any responsibility for Gray’s April 2015 death from a severe spinal injury.  

In addition to Circuit Judge Barry Williams' dismissal of the assault charge, prosecutors dropped one count of misconduct in office stemming frmo Gray's initial detainment.

The remaining charges against Rice are involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment and another misconduct in office count.

Rice Trial: State rests, assault dismissed

Jul 11, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams dismissed Monday the charge of second degree assault against Lt. Brian Rice.  He did so after the state rested its case.

Williams said while prosecutors have shown that Rice did not put Freddie Gray in a seatbelt, he was “not satisfied” that the state had shown evidence that Rice committed assault.

Baltimore Police

A friend of Freddie Gray, the black man who died from injuries suffered in police custody, testified that an officer on trial in the death told him to leave as Gray was being arrested.

P. Kenneth Burns

A neurosurgeon has testified at the trial of a Baltimore police officer facing criminal charges after the arrest and death of a young black man that the man suffered an incomplete spinal cord injury and could still move his head and talk.

Fraser Smith and Andy Green, of the Baltimore Sun's editorial board, discuss the fall-out from the results of the police trials in the Freddie Gray case.

State says Rice is responsible as supervisor

Jul 7, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

Prosecutors argued Thursday that Lt. Brian Rice, as shift commander, had ultimate responsibility for keeping Freddie Gray safe in the back of a police van the day of his arrest, but that he failed to do so by not securing Gray with a seatbelt.

Outside of that, much of what Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Michael Schatzow told Circuit Judge Barry Williams in his opening statements in Rice’s trial was similar to what he said in the trials of Officers Caesar Goodson and Edward Nero.

Flickr, via Creative Commons

A state commission charged with determining whether Maryland students spend too much time taking standardized tests issued a final report today. Among the recommendations was a suggestion that local jurisdictions examine their own required tests.

VPs, e-mail and trust

Jul 6, 2016

    

Fraser Smith and Melissa Deckman, chair of the political science department at Washington College, take up Donald Trump's vice presidential choice, Hillary Clinton's e-mail woes and the matter of trust.

Rice trial begins Thursday

Jul 5, 2016
Baltimore Police

The trial of Lt. Brian Rice, the highest ranking officer of the six charged in last year’s death of Freddie Gray, is to begin Thursday morning.  And it will be a bench trial.

Rice, who has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, second degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment, waived his right to a jury trial during a hearing before Circuit Judge Barry Williams Tuesday.

Baltimore celebrates Lor Scoota

Jul 2, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

Baltimore’s farewell to local rap artist Tyriece Watson took a New Orleans flavor Friday; a somber funeral in the morning at the Empowerment Temple AME Church in Park Heights and an upbeat community repast in the afternoon at Pennsylvania Avenue and McMechen Street.  But instead of jazz, the music was hip-hop.

Watson, known as Lor Scoota, was shot and killed June 25 as he was leaving a peace rally at Morgan State University.  Police continue to look for a suspect in his murder.

The threat of rain was not going to stop anything.

P. Kenneth Burns

After spending 16 years in prison, a man convicted of murder who was at the center of the podcast "Serial" has won a new trial in Baltimore.

Rachel Baye

Maryland’s prison system is short several hundred correctional officers.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union called on the state to fix the problem at a news conference Thursday morning at the Dorsey Run Correctional Facility in Jessup. Union leaders say the shortage endangers correctional officers.

What’s next for prosecutors in Freddie Gray case?

Jun 30, 2016

  Prosecutors will continue to seek a conviction in last year’s death of Freddie Gray when the trial of Lt. Brian Rice begins Tuesday with a motions hearing.

But after three trials, they have yet to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that any of the officers tried so far were criminally responsible for Gray’s death.

The Baltimore Police Department has updated its use of force policy to mandate officers to immediately render aid if someone in custody complains of an injury a year after an arrestee suffered a critical spinal injury in a police van but was initially denied medical treatment.

Lor Scoota to be celebrated through three days of healing

Jun 29, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

The family and friends of slain local rap artist Tyriece “Lor Scoota” Watson announced Wednesday plans to celebrate his life and artistry over the next three days.

Minister Marvin McKenstry said the circumstances of Scoota’s death have overshadowed his legacy.

Rachel Baye

The Maryland Department of the Environment is in the process of drafting new regulations that would govern hydraulic fracturing, a drilling process better known as fracking, in western Maryland. Monday night, the agency held a public meeting in Baltimore to discuss the proposed new rules. WYPR's Rachel Baye joined Nathan Sterner to talk about the debate over the issue.

A local DREAMer and her family fight to stay healthy

Jun 28, 2016
Mary Wiltenburg

Some days, in the busy East Baltimore insurance agency where she works, saleswoman Nathaly Uribe takes nonstop calls from members of the city’s Latino community, looking to buy home and car protection plans. It’s an unspoken irony that the women in her office, who spend eight hours a day insuring others, don’t have health insurance themselves.

Police launch text line for tips in Lor Scoota murder

Jun 27, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

  Baltimore Police launched Monday two new digital methods for witnesses to send tips for their investigation into the murder of popular local rapper Tyriece Watson, also known as “Lor Scoota.”

Detectives are asking the public to text their tips, pictures, videos, Facebook Live and Periscope links to 443-902-4824. 

The public can also email files to homicidetips@baltimorepolice.org. People who report tips can remain anonymous.

“We’ll take it in Google Drive, we’ll take it in Dropbox; however you have it,” said police spokesman T.J. Smith.

Goodson cleared of all charges in Freddie Gray’s death

Jun 23, 2016

Officer Caesar Goodson was acquitted Thursday of all charges against him in the police custody death of Freddie Gray.

Goodson, who drove the police van that transported Gray, faced the most serious charges in the case: second degree depraved heart murder, involuntary manslaughter, gross negligent manslaughter by vehicle, criminal negligent manslaughter by vehicle, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office.

Kenneth K. Lam / Baltimore Sun

Officer Caesar Goodson, one of the six Baltimore city police officers indicted in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray, was acquitted Thursday of second-degree depraved-heart murder, second-degree assault, misconduct in office, involuntary manslaughter, manslaughter by vehicles (gross negligence), manslaughter by vehicles (criminal negligence) and reckless endangerment. In December, Officer William G. Porter's trial ended with a hung jury and last month Officer Edward Nero was acquitted of all charges including reckless endangerment and second-degree assault. 

Judge Barry Williams issued his verdict in the Goodson trial on Thursday morning. Maryland Morning host Tom Hall anchored special live coverage of the verdict. He was joined in-studio by lawyer F. Michael Higginbotham of University of Baltimore Law School and Ray Kelly, president of the No Boundaries Coalition. WYPR reporters P. Kenneth Burns and Rachel Baye provided live coverage from the city courthouse. 

P. Kenneth Burns

  A Baltimore judge is poised to deliver his verdict in the murder trial of an officer who drove the police van where a black arrestee's neck was broken, triggering some of the worst riots the city has ever seen.

Caesar Goodson was charged with murder, manslaughter, assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office.

John Lee

On a recent evening at the Birdland Sports Bar on Belair Road, Kathy Szeliga was making her pitch to about 30 people, most of them already on board with her campaign.

“36 years ago, Mark and I eloped,” Szeliga said. “We had five dollars in our pocket, minimum wage jobs and no car.”

But they went on to start a construction business. Szeliga plans to use her ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps’ story to contrast herself with her opponent for Maryland’s open U.S. Senate seat, Democratic Congressman Chris Van Hollen.

“You know, Ivy League, privileged white guy versus, you know the blue collar small business owner,” Szeliga said.

Nicole Price, 21st Century Schools

  Maintenance inspections at public schools around the state tell local school authorities if there are issues affecting the health or safety of students and staff. But a state audit released Wednesday found that hundreds of these inspection reports hadn’t reached school officials more than a year after the inspections were completed.

Rachel Baye

Maryland’s two-year ban on hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking, is expected to end in October 2017. But a small town in northern Garrett County wants to keep the drilling technique from ever being used within its borders.

Nicole Price, 21st Century School Building Plan

The Baltimore City school system is spending $1 billion to update and renovate nearly two dozen overcrowded and outdated schools as part of the 21st Century Schools Building Plan. But closing schools and buildings and moving students, no matter the goal, is not easy, especially for communities that have lost many of their public institutions over the years.

Marvin Walker’s daughter attends Samuel F.B. Morse Elementary School in a Southwest Baltimore neighborhood of vacant homes and broken sidewalks. It’s a school that’s slated to close and its students are to move to nearby Frederick Elementary, which is being modernized to accommodate more students under the system’s 21st Century School Building Plan.

Goodson Trial: Prosecutors roughed up by judge over theory

Jun 20, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams was sharply critical Monday morning of prosecutors who argued that Officer Caesar Goodson gave Freddie Gray a rough ride in the back of his police van that lead to a fatal spine injury.

Goodson Trial: Can prosecutors close the case?

Jun 19, 2016

Closing arguments in the trial of Officer Caesar Goodson are scheduled Monday morning before Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams.

Goodson faces the most serious charges in the death of Freddie Gray; second degree depraved heart murder, criminal negligent vehicular manslaughter, gross negligent vehicular manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment.

But the state has had a hard time thus far proving its case against the officer it has charged.

Goodson Trial: Nero called as defense rests

Jun 19, 2016

Lawyers for Officer Caesar Goodson, on trial in the death of Freddie Gray, called Officer Edward Nero to the stand Friday.

It was the first time Nero, who was recently acquitted in the same case, returned to Courthouse East after Circuit Judge Barry Williams found him not guilty of second degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office in May.

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