Can an impartial jury be found in the case against a Baltimore police officer charged in connection with the death of Freddie Gray? The Baltimore Sun asks that question, as 75 local residents were interviewed yesterday to start the selection process. Certain answers to questions wouldn’t necessarily disqualify jurors, much less automatically exclude them. All potential jurors said they had at least some familiarity with the events surrounding Gray’s death. Defense attorneys have sought to move the trial out of Baltimore, arguing it would be impossible to seat an impartial jury. Judge Barry Williams has denied that request, saying the jurors are screened for bias during the selection process.
Depending on what happens in the coming days, defense attorneys could renew their request to move the trial or raise the issue on appeal if officer William Porter is convicted. Porter is charged with manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment in the death of 25-year-old Gray, who died a week after suffering a severe spinal injury in the back of a police van after being arrested in April. Five other officers also have been charged. The defense may seek to show that the jury pool is hopelessly biased. If that’s not possible, the attorneys will prompt jurors to express hesitations about their impartiality for the appellate record, said former prosecutor Warren Alperstein, who watched the proceedings yesterday. “It’s on. … It’s absolutely on,” Alperstein said. “The defense is going to want to make a record of every possible issue.”