Officer Found Not Guilty of Second-Degree Murder in Freddie Gray Trial

iStock/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE) -- Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., the third of six Baltimore City police officers to stand trial for their alleged role in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray, was found not guilty of second-degree murder Thursday by Judge Barry Williams.

Goodson, who drove the police van carrying 25-year-old Gray, faced up to 30 years in prison if he was convicted of the most serious charge, second-degree depraved-heart murder. He chose to leave his fate up to a judge instead of a jury.

The verdict comes three days after arguments wrapped up in the case. Judge Williams was tasked with deciding when, over the course of the ride, Gray sustained the fatal injury that led to his death, as well as whether that injury was a result of actions taken, or not taken, by Goodson.

Goodson was also found not guilty of manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office. He had pleaded not guilty on all counts.

Prosecutors had to prove that Goodson acted with such wanton and reckless disregard for human life that it amounted to malice. During closing remarks Monday, Judge Williams seemed confused by the state’s argument that the wide right turn was a "rough ride," asking, “Can we not agree that taking a turn wide is less dangerous?”

Williams also questioned prosecutors as to why Goodson stopped to check on Gray if it was his intent to give him a "rough ride." Surveillance footage obtained from CCTV at the time of the ride shows Goodson stopping the van following the wide right turn, walking to the back, looking in, returning to the front, and getting back behind the wheel before calling dispatch for backup.

Gray died following a severe neck and spinal cord injury. During the trial, the defense argued that the neck and spinal cord injury occurred simultaneously in a “catastrophic” moments before arriving at the police station. The prosecution argued that the neck injury resulted from the alleged “rough ride” and progressively worsened through the remaining stops, and that the officers neglected to get Gray medical care, which led to his death.

Williams also presided in the previous cases of Officers William Porter and Edward Nero. Porter’s trial ended with a hung jury in December and he will be retried in September. Nero, who also opted for a bench trial by Williams, was acquitted last month.

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California anticipates much-needed rain this week after catastrophic wildfires

California anticipates much-needed rain this week after catastrophic wildfiresGoogle Earth(NEW YORK) -- Ravaged by a slew of deadly wildfires in recent days, northern California is set to get a bit of relief this week in the form of rain.

A storm system is expected to move over the Pacific Northwest later this week and the trailing cold front will most likely bring some much-needed rain to northern California between Thursday and Friday, according to ABC meteorologists.

"It will rain a bit but not enough to fully douse the blazes," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Ken Clark said in a statement Tuesday. "The biggest advantage to firefighters will be the increase in humidity and lower temperatures."

Massive wildfires have charred more than 245,000 acres of land statewide in the past week, killing at least 41 people and destroying thousands of homes, according to authorities.

Firefighters were battling about a dozen wildfires as of late Tuesday evening, although most of them were more than halfway contained.

“The weather today will be warm with low humidity, which will continue to challenge firefighters, but only light winds are forecast,” CalFire said in a statement on Tuesday. “A chance of precipitation is expected to arrive later in the week, bringing relief from the dry conditions.”

The northern parts of the Golden State, which has bared the brunt of the fire damage, is forecast to see an influx of cloudy, cooler and wetter weather later in the week, according to AccuWeather.

Spotter from Los Osos was reporting sprinkles from this high level moisture. Dry at lower levels. Rain evaporates. Also called "Virga" #cawx pic.twitter.com/sgxj3bdXZQ

— NWS Los Angeles (@NWSLosAngeles) October 18, 2017

However, a return of dry air, heat and areas of gusty winds could once again raise the wildfire danger early next week, meteorologists said.

Separately, a band of moisture, referred to as Atmospheric River by weather experts, is currently stretching between Asia and North America. It’s expected to bring several storm systems into many parts of the Pacific Northwest through the rest of the week.

The first of these storms have already hit the Pacific Northwest with wind gusts of between 40 and 74 mph.

A number of wind warnings and flood watches are in effect in the western and northern parts of the U.S. ahead of the storm.

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