The pre-trial in the high-profile case against six police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray began on Wednesday morning.
Protesters gathered peacefully outside the Baltimore City Circuit Court where Judge Barry Williams focused on defence motions slated against the prosecution. The motions sought dismissal of all charges and removal of State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby and several prosecutors from the case.
Judge Williams later denied the first motion to recuse Attorney Mosby from the case and refused to dismiss the charges against the officers.
At least one protester, an activist named Kwame Rose, was arrested before the trail was set to begin at 10am.
The judge later ruled that all six officers charged in connection with Mr Gray's death will be tried separately. He denied a motion from prosecution lawyers to try three of the officers as a group. He said evidence against any of the three is not mutually admissible and "not in the interest of justice".
The 25-year-old’s death sparked peaceful protests which sometimes turned violent shortly after his funeral.
Officers arrested Gray on 12 April after he ran from police in West Baltimore. He was detained and placed into a police van with handcuffs and shackles but was not provided a seatbelt.
Gray later died from a severed spine in police custody on 19 April. A medical examiner who reviewed the young man’s autopsy ruled his death a homicide.
The six Baltimore police officers — Caesar Goodson, Edward Nero, Garrett Miller, William Porter, Brian Rice and Alicia White — plead not guilty on 2 July. The officers face charges ranging from reckless endangerment, assault and manslaughter, to second-degree depraved heart murder.
The defense argues that Attorney Mosby has ties to the lawyers representing Gray’s family, leaked information to the press, and violated their rights to a fair trial when she announced charges during a press conference when the city was in turmoil.
The officers will appear for a second pre-trial hearing on 10 September and the trial is set to begin on 13 October.
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