MARYLAND

University of Maryland beating trial: Judge in case once married to ex-PG officer

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The defense has rested in the trial of two police officers accused of beating a University of Maryland student.

But before closing arguments could get underway, the case came to a halt over the judge in the case.

The judge, Beverly Woodard, had once been married to an ex-Prince George’s County officer who had himself been convicted of using excessive force.

She had not disclosed this information to the prosecutors and defense.

Sources say a mistrial was discussed but the judge determined that the trial could go on. She stated she can be fair and impartial.

Woodard this week granted a defense motion to dismiss the first degree assault charge, ruling there is no evidence of strikes to the victim's head.
Officers Reginald Baker and James Harrison still face two charges in the case - second degree assault and misconduct.

Baker and Harrison are accused of beating up John McKenna as students celebrated the men's basketball team's victory over Duke on March 3, 2010. As he skipped down the sidewalk with his arms raised in celebration, McKenna approached officers on horseback and was struck with police batons.

Video from a street level cell phone camera was shown to the jury on the third day of the trial. Prosecutors called the video significant since it seems to show McKenna singing happily and in a non-threatening fashion. It also seems he is given no police orders other than "quiet" and "back up" before he was struck.

Baker and Harrison admit they can be seen on camera striking McKenna, but they claim the blows are reasonable. Based on the video, Judge Beverly Woodard said she saw no blows to the head and threw out the first degree assault charge.

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