Juror from Freddie Gray case trial breaks silence

Justin Fenton
The Baltimore Sun

Baltimore — A member of the only jury to hear evidence in the trials of the Baltimore police officers charged in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray spoke out Friday after the conclusion of the criminal trials and said she believes the justice system worked well.

Attorney Susan Elgin was one of 12 jurors picked for the first trial, of Officer William Porter, who was charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office. The jurors were unable to reach a unanimous verdict on any of the counts, resulting in a mistrial last December.

The Baltimore Sun reported in January, quoting a different juror who wished to remain anonymous, that the panel was one vote away from acquitting Porter of manslaughter, while coming close to convicting the officer of misconduct, with 10 in favor, one undecided and one in favor of acquittal.

The jurors were more closely split on the other counts, leaning 8-2 toward conviction on assault with two undecided, and toward conviction on reckless endangerment, with seven for conviction, three for acquittal and two undecided.

"The above stated verdicts reflect the honest and best judgment of our jury on the evidence presented at trial," Elgin said in a written statement. "We listened carefully to the court's instructions and did our best to apply the law given to us to the facts proven in the courtroom. It was not an easy task and we had legitimate differences of opinion, but the justice system was well served in this case."

Elgin would not reveal how she personally voted. In a brief phone interview, Elgin said she was not yet ready to discuss her feelings about the case. "I'm just one person," she said.

After dropping the three pending cases, State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby and her staff have spoken out about frustration over the next three officers electing for bench trials without prosecutors being able to weigh in.

Chief Deputy State's Attorney Michael Schatzow noted The Baltimore Sun's reports of the jury deliberations in defending the cases.

"If we credit the reports in the newspaper, we know that some jurors were persuaded beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime had been committed, others were not," he said Thursday. "Whether the result would have been different or not (if the other cases had been tried by a jury), your guess is as good as mine."

Jurors were asked by Williams not to speak publicly about their deliberations until the proceedings had concluded. Following the Porter trial, the next three cases were decided by Williams after the officers elected to forego a trial by jury.

"While one can argue the legitimacy of a 'gag order' on a jury, I believe I speak for most of the jurors when I say we wanted to respect Judge Williams' request that we be silent until all of the officers' trials were concluded," Elgin said in her statement.

Elgin, who is a Towson, Maryland-based family law attorney, said attorneys for the state and defense knew she was an attorney when she was selected.

"I was proud to serve," she said.