Jury Deadlocked in Freddie Gray Case


freddie-gray2Jurors in the trial of Baltimore police Officer William Porter reported Tuesday afternoon that they were deadlocked — but Judge Barry Williams sent them back to continue deliberating.

They continued deliberating until about 5:30 p.m., when they broke for the day. They will return Wednesday morning to continue the process.

The jurors considering whether Porter is guilty of manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office had spent about nine hours deliberating when attorneys were called back into Williams’ courtroom at about 3:30 p.m. for a jury note.

Williams said the jury said they were deadlocked. The jury did not elaborate on whether they are split on all or some of the charges, or which way the panel is leaning. Williams read from a portion of the jury instructions that had been read at the outset of the deliberations, in which he said the jury must reach a unanimous decision. Without any further comment, Williams told the jury to continue deliberating.

When a jury tells a judge that they can’t reach a verdict, he or she must instruct them to keep deliberating at least once, according to legal experts.

The initial instruction a judge gives to a deadlocked jury is required before a judge can declare a mistrial, said Kurt Nachtman, a former prosecutor who now works in criminal defense in Baltimore.

The judge “basically says: Go back and keep trying,” said Thomas Maronick Jr., another criminal defense attorney in Baltimore.

If the jury persists that they can’t reach a verdict, the judge can declare a mistrial.

A jury must be unanimous in order to reach a verdict on any given charge. The jury could reach verdicts on some charges but be deadlocked on others. A conviction or acquittal on one of the charges would stand regardless of whether a mistrial was declared on charges in which the jury is deadlocked.

Read more at the Baltimore Sun.