George Floyd killing: Derek Chauvin faces additional third-degree murder charge
Mar 12 2021
But the Minnesota Court of Appeals recently ruled in a separate case involving a police killing that third-degree murder could be applied even if the "death-causing act" is directed at a specific person.
Cahill, who twice rejected the third-degree charge before the appellate ruling, issued the decision as the jury selection process in Chauvin's trial entered its third day.
The new charges opened the door to a third potential pathway to a conviction for prosecutors, who began jury selection on Tuesday.
If convicted, Chauvin could face up to 40 years in prison for second-degree murder, up to 25 years for third-degree murder, and up to 10 years for second-degree manslaughter.
"When you have a case of this magnitude, with a video that is this graphic, and you have an officer who is able to get away with the possibility of a third-degree murder conviction, it certainly will make it hard for anyone else who was killed by police to expect that an officer would face more than a third-degree murder charge", she said. Prosecutors were asking the Minnesota Court of Appeals to put the trial on hold until the issue of adding the extra count was resolved.
Chauvin was recorded on video pressing his knee to the neck of Floyd, a Black man, for almost nine minutes.
It could take as long as three weeks to pick 12 jurors and up to four alternates, with opening arguments in the case not expected to start before March 29. Floyd's death sparked sometimes violent protests in Minneapolis and beyond, leading to a nationwide reckoning on race. They will ask a question.
By the end of the day Wednesday, jury selection had seated five jurors.
On Wednesday, the Minnesota Supreme Court declined to take up the appeal filed by Eric Nelson, Chauvin's attorney, seeking to overturn a state Court of Appeals ruling that ordered Cahill to reconsider a third-degree murder charge in the case.
Cahill, a Hennepin County District Court judge, has sharply limited the number of people allowed in the courtroom for the trial, but because of the wide interest in the case, he has given Court TV the right to televise it, the first time a criminal trial in Minnesota will be broadcast in its entirety.
Mr Chauvin's trial is one of the most closely watched in recent years, after footage of his arrest of Mr Floyd, an unarmed black man who was pinned to the ground until he became immobile, provoked an global response. The others face an August trial on aiding and abetting charges.
Legal experts say the additional charge helps prosecutors by giving jurors another option to find Chauvin guilty of murder.
Chauvin has argued through his lawyers that he followed his training and that the fentanyl the medical examiner found in Floyd's blood was the main cause of death.
Hennepin County Medical Examiner Andrew Baker formally declared Floyd's death a homicide, saying that neck compression was a key factor.