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Defense Rests In Nero Trial, Verdict To Come On Monday

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- The defense has rested its case in the trial of Officer Edward Nero. He is the second Baltimore City police officer to stand trial in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray.

Closing arguments will be delivered Thursday. A verdict is expected on Monday.

WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren has more on the defense's final testimony.

The former head of Baltimore City police training said it would have been impossible to safely seat belt a resisting detainee in the back of a police van.

The defense never testified about the knife that Freddie Gray had on him when he was arrested. Prosecutors contended it was legal.

Before leaving the bench, Judge Barry Williams did not explain why he is waiting until Monday to deliver the verdict.

Officer Edward Nero left court Wednesday under heavy security. The judge says he will wait until Monday to rule on Nero's guilt or innocence surrounding the arrest of Freddie Gray.

"If he convicts, then maybe there's a chilling effect on police work throughout the city," said Warren Brown, lawyer and courtroom observer. "If he acquits, whether it's going to ignite riots."

"I know that people sitting next to me thought perhaps the Preakness would play a role, but it is not uncommon for a judge to say, 'I want to come sit back, go through the notes I have taken in the course of the trial and put my thoughts together,'" said David Jaros, University of Baltimore School of Law.

The final defense witness, the former Baltimore police director of training, said he believed Officer Nero acted reasonably during Gray's arrest and when placing him into a police van.

He also said a general order mandating detainees be secured in vans with seat belts was just a guideline, and officers have discretion not to follow it.

Gray was not secured, and later died from a spinal injury.

"It may very well be that what the officers did was negligent and therefore was appropriate for the city to settle the case because there was civil negligence, but it didn't constitute a crime," said Jaros.

Prosecutors believe police arrested Gray without case. The defense contends officers had every right to take Gray into custody because he fled in a high-crime area.

While prosecutors did play a recorded interview with Nero, he never took the stand in his own defense.

"I think the defense was successfully able to present all of those defense points through the other witnesses, including many of the state's witnesses," said Warren Alperstein, lawyer and courtroom observer.

Closing arguments begin at 10 a.m. Thursday. Each side has 45 minutes to make its final case.

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