A Maryland appeals court on Monday delayed the murder trial of a Baltimore police officer in the death of black detainee Freddie Gray until it can decide on whether a key witness should testify.
Caesar Goodson Jr.'s trial was due to have begun this week in a case that fueled a nationwide debate over race and policing in the United States.
But the ruling by the Court of Special Appeals in Annapolis delayed the trial until it can decide whether another Baltimore police officer, William Porter, whose own trial in the Gray case ended in a hung jury in December, could be compelled to testify against Goodson and another officer.
Porter has said he will invoke his constitutional right against self-incrimination if called to testify. His retrial is scheduled for June.
Both men are among a total of six officers facing trial in Baltimore City Circuit Court for the death of Gray, who died of a broken neck in April after being transported in a police van.
A spokeswoman for Maryland's court system said motions would have to be filed in Goodson's case and oral arguments held before the appeals court could rule on whether Porter will testify. There is no time frame for a decision, she said.
Goodson faces the most serious charge, second-degree depraved heart murder. If convicted he could be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison. In Maryland, depraved heart murder is a killing done while acting with extreme disregard for human life.
Goodson also is accused of manslaughter, three counts of assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment.
The 46-year-old defendant 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.
Baltimore, a majority black city of 620,000 people, exploded in protests after Gray's death. The unrest followed other police killings of black men in New York and Ferguson, Missouri.
Al Jazeera and Reuters