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Baltimore Sun

Judge Rules Identities Of Jurors In Freddie Gray Trial Will Remain Concealed

The jurors assigned to the case involving one of the officers who killed Freddie Gray are set to withhold their names, rules a Baltimore City Circuit Court judge. 

With the coming trial of Officer William G. Porter – one of the six officers responsible for the death of 25 year-old Freddie Gray back in April – on the horizon, intense media scrutiny has flooded the case. So much so, that a judge ruled on Tuesday (Nov. 24) that jurors participating in the case will remain anonymous.

The jury selection is set to start on Monday (Nov. 30), according to The New York Times. In doing so, Judge Barry G. Williams of Baltimore City Circuit Court found that the jury could be subjected to “undue harassment” if their names were released. However, he did deny a request from defense lawyers to isolate the jurors on the case

Yet for the pre-trial motions in Officer Porter’s case, the judge will allow members of the jury to watch two cell phone video clips of Gray’s arrest. One which shows how he was shackled as he was taken into the police van, which prosecutors say is what caused the spinal injury that led to his death. The judge also said he would let the jurors inspect the van.

Despite all the access the judicial system is granting jurors, legal experts say that prosecutors will face some upcoming obstacles in proving their cases against all the officers. They say the first trial is the determining factor in the rest of the cases that follow. Some even go ahead to say that Officer Porter may withdrawl from trial all together, and just have Judge Williams decide his fate.

“When officers have been charged with this kind of misconduct, they have traditionally waived the jury, tried the case in front of a judge — and tended to be successful,” said David Jaros, a law professor at the University of Baltimore, who has kept a watchful eye on the case since its inception.

This trials comes after seven months of Freddie Gray’s death. Officer Porter is facing charges manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment, but has pleaded not guilty on all counts. Reportedly, officers are preparing for a tumultuous time if Officer Porter is acquitted.

Let’s hope justice will be served.

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Florida Judge Clears Record Of Man Who Overslept And Missed Jury Duty

A Florida judge made headlines last week when he sentenced a man to 10 days in jail for oversleeping and missing jury duty. Now, CNN reports the judge has cleared the young man's record.

Judge John Kastrenakes found 21-year-old Deandre Somerville in contempt of court for not showing up to jury duty during a civil trial. Kastrenakes vacated the contempt of court charge and cleared Somerville's record.

The West Palm Beach resident was originally sentenced to 10 days, 150 hours of community service, a written apology of no less than 100 words and $233 in fines. Judge Kastrenakes' decision prompted swift outrage on social media as Sommerville does not have a criminal record.

The judge reportedly reduced the sentence Friday when Sommerville appeared before the court to read the letter. "Before my hearing, I walked into the courtroom a free man with no criminal record. I left a criminal in handcuffs. This was an immature decision that I made, and I paid the price for my freedom," Somerville said while reading his letter.

On Saturday the Judge said Somerville's letter was 'moving, sincere and heartfelt " and noted that he "has been totally rehabilitated."

Kastrenakes said he ordered probation because he wanted to send a message that jury duty is "is serious business deserving of attention, respect, and adherence to their oaths." However, he said Somerville is "a thoughtful and respectful young man."

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Courtesy of Trinity County Sheriff's Office

A Texas Man Robbed A Bank The Day Before His Wedding To Pay For The Ring

A Texas man has been charged with aggravated robbery for robbing a bank the day before his wedding to pay for the ring and venue.

According to reports, Heath Edward Bumpus approached a bank teller at Citizens State Bank on Saturday (Oct. 4) and said he had a weapon and demanded money, which he left with.

“He basically stated that he was getting married tomorrow so he didn’t have enough money for a wedding ring that he wanted to buy and he needed to pay for the wedding venue,” Sheriff Woody Wallace said.

After learning of the robbery, Wallace posted Bumpus' photo on Trinity County Sherriff’s Facebook page in hopes the public would assist with his capture. In an ironic turn of events, Bumpus' fiancee saw the photo, called him and convinced him to turn himself into authorities.

“His fiancée, who he was supposed to marry tomorrow, was able to get in touch with him on the phone when she saw our post on Facebook. She knew it was him. She contacted him and asked him if he robbed a bank. She convinced him that she knew it was him. His picture was all on Facebook. He needed to turn himself in,” said Wallace in a video posted to his Facebook page.

Wallace said most of the money was returned, along with the clothes he threw out the window of his car and the gun he hid during the robbery.

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Spencer Platt

NYPD Arrests 24-Year-Old Suspect In Quadruple Homeless Homicide

There appears to be no rhyme or reason behind the vicious attacks on five of New York City's homeless, which has left not only the community but other New Yorkers shaking their heads in dismay.

According to The New York Times, Rudy Rodriguez Santos was arrested and charged in the quadruple homicide, which took place at about 2 AM Saturday (Oct. 5) in the Chinatown section of the city. Authorities have not released the names of the victims but revealed one of them was an 83-years-old man. The fifth victim has been transported to a nearby hospital.

Advocates for the homeless say there's no way to know exactly how many men and women are living on the street, however, in a 2018 tally the number was 3,588, with 62,000 men and women living in shelters.

Blocks away from the scene, police found 24-year-old Santos holding a bloody metal bar. He was reportedly taken into custody without incident.

“The motive appears to be, right now, just random attacks,” Michael Baldassano, the chief of Manhattan South Detectives said. “No one was targeted by race, age, anything of that nature.”

Santos was captured on surveillance footage approaching the area where one of the attacks took place. Another attack was recorded on a security camera. When approached by investigators, Santos identified himself in the video but didn't confess to the crime. He later asked for an attorney.

Tang Wu, a manager of the Forever Health Pharmacy at 2 East Broadway, caught the attacks on his store's camera and was flabbergasted at the callousness of it all.

“They have nowhere to live and you beat them to death,” Wu said. “How terrible.”

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