The trial of Ceasar Goodson was supposed to be the centerpiece of Marilyn Mosby’s effort to go after the Baltimore police officers involved in the Freddie Gray incident and her best hope of obtaining a conviction. But as the trial wears on through its first week, one surprise after another has shown up. First we learned that the judge had become incensed over potentially exculpatory evidence which had been withheld by the prosecution involving testimony from another prisoner who was in the van with Gray. Yesterday we found out that yet another key piece of evidence had somehow not made it into the proceedings and this one could be a golden ticket for the defense. (Baltimore Sun)
Evidence disclosed for the first time Wednesday in the trial of Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., the van driver charged with second-degree murder in the death of Freddie Gray, suggests that the medical examiner performing Gray’s autopsy at one point intended to rule his death an accident.
Assistant medical examiner Dr. Carol Allan ultimately ruled the death a homicide. And she has stood by that ruling at Goodson’s trial, saying that she never felt Gray’s death was an accident. “The word ‘accident’ never crossed my lips to anyone, other than to say, ‘This is not an accident,'” she said on the witness stand on Friday.
But on Wednesday, the state acknowleged [sic] a police investigator had noted that Allen had suggested Gray’s death was an accident at a meeting last year.
As the medical examiner, Dr. Allan was actually the point of origin for this entire circus. It was her responsibility to initially examine the medical evidence and determine a cause of death after Freddie Gray died. Had she determined that Gray passed away from either an accident or natural causes, the entire process would essentially grind to a halt. You can’t very well bring charges for a crime if there was no determination that any crime had taken place.
By listing Gray’s cause of death as “homicide” on the official forms, the opposite scenario unfolds. If a citizen was killed, the guilty party or parties must be identified and brought to justice, allowing State’s Attorney Mosby to bring us to where we are today. But if this testimony reveals that Allan’s initial assessment was leaning toward labeling the death an accident, what happened between that moment and the time that the death certificate was filed to change her professional opinion?
Taken in a vacuum, one could certainly argue that she’d simply taken more time to examine all of the medical reports and come to a different conclusion. But the judge is listening to all of this testimony closely. When you add this factoid in with the previous bits of evidence that the prosecution kept under wraps, one has to ask the question of whether or not Mosby and her staff put pressure on Allan to declare it a homicide so they could move forward with a prosecution. If that’s the judge’s conclusion, it’s one more crack in the increasingly shaky wall of the state’s charges against Goodson and his fellow officers.