Maryland's highest court agreed to postpone trials and hear the appeals related to several police officers charged in the case of Freddie Gray, whose death in custody sparked rioting and protests, court filings showed on Thursday.
The state's Court of Appeals agreed to hear arguments for five of the six officers involved in the Gray case, whose death after suffering injuries in police van last April fueled national concern about U.S. police tactics.
At issue is whether Officer William Porter, whose trial ended in a hung jury in December, can be compelled to testify against two other officers charged in the case, Officer Caesar Goodson and Sergeant Alicia White, while protecting his rights against self-incrimination.
Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera also said it would hear arguments in the prosecution's appeal of a lower court ruling that blocked them from compelling Porter to testify against the other three policemen: Officers Edward Nero and Garrett Miller, and Lieutenant Brian Rice.
The death of Gray, a 25-year-old black man, intensified a national movement decrying police violence against people of color, dubbed Black Lives Matter, amid a string of high-profile police killings of unarmed black people across the United States since mid-2014.
Goodson was the driver of the police transport van where Gray, who was arrested after fleeing police, suffered a broken neck. He died a week later.
Goodson faces a second-degree murder charge, the most serious charge brought against any of the officers.
Nero's trial was scheduled to start next Monday while the trials for Miller and Rice were set for March. Porter's retrial was scheduled for June.
Porter has said he will invoke his constitutional right against self-incrimination if called to testify.
Arguments for all five of the cases are set for March 3, according to Barbera's Thursday order.
(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco and Joseph Ax in New York; Editing by Bernard Orr and Lisa Shumaker)