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Apr. 19 highlights for the murder trial of Derek Chauvin

Highlights from the trial of Derek Chauvin. The case was handed over to the jury, who met for four hours of deliberation Monday evening.

The jury has started deliberations in Derek Chauvin's trial in the death of George Floyd after prosecutors and Chauvin's lawyers presented their closing arguments on Monday and the judge provided instructions on the charges, which include second-degree murder.

The 12 jurors deliberated for four hours Monday and will resume Tuesday.

The case was handed over to the jury after nearly three weeks of witness testimony. Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, declined to take the stand last week.

Jury ends first day of deliberations in Chauvin trial

483d ago / 2:17 AM UTC

The seven women and five men who will decide Derek Chauvin’s fate ended their first day of deliberations at 8 p.m. local time Monday after listening to closing arguments from prosecutors and defense lawyers.

The jury met for four hours.

Chauvin was charged with three crimes — second-degree unintentional murder; third-degree murder; and second-degree manslaughter. If convicted of the first, most serious charge, the former Minneapolis police officer faces a maximum prison term of 40 years.

During nearly three weeks of testimony, prosecutors argued that George Floyd died by asphyxia after Chauvin kneeled on his neck for more than nine minutes. Chauvin’s lawyers focused on Floyd’s drug use, medical history and bad heart.

The jury is expected to return to the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis on Tuesday morning.

Chauvin trial judge says Maxine Waters 'confrontational' protest remarks could fuel appeal

483d ago / 9:50 PM UTC

The judge in Derek Chauvin's murder trial in the death of George Floyd criticized recent comments by Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., and said her words could cause the trial to be overturned on appeal.

The California Democratic congresswoman, who has long been a lightning rod, was already facing a torrent of criticism from Republicans for her comments over the weekend urging protesters in Minnesota to “get more confrontational” if Chauvin is not convicted, with several GOP lawmakers calling for Waters' expulsion from Congress.

Chauvin's lawyer asked the judge to declare a mistrial over Waters' comments, arguing that she had prejudiced the jury. Judge Peter Cahill denied that request, but said Waters' comments were "abhorrent" and said she may have handed the defense a lifeline anyway.

"I'll give you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned," Cahill said as arguments in the case concluded Monday and the jury began deliberations.


Jury now deliberating after closing arguments end in Chauvin trial

483d ago / 9:20 PM UTC

After three weeks of witness and expert testimony, the prosecution and the defense in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin have rested their cases and given closing arguments. Now it's the jury's turn to deliberate in the high-profile case of the death of George Floyd.

Floyd, a Black man, died May 25 after Chauvin, a white 19-year veteran of the Minneapolis Police Department, pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes. The jury will have to decide whether Chauvin's actions played a significant role in Floyd's death.

Click here to read the full story on what's known about the members of the jury and what's before them as they consider whether to convict Chauvin, who was fired after the incident.

Prosecution rebuts defense in final words of Chauvin trial

483d ago / 9:15 PM UTC

The prosecution in the Derek Chauvin trial has delivered its rebuttal to the defense's more than two and a half hour closing arguments on Monday afternoon. 

During the rebuttal, special prosecutor Jerry Blackwell told the jurors that he would be the final lawyer speaking to them and that he wouldn't "take too long." He told the jurors that although they had heard from 45 witnesses, that he believed there was a 46th witness in the case: common sense.

In the final moments of his rebuttal, Blackwell focused on the defense's argument that George Floyd died of an enlarged heart, among other health issues, instead implying Floyd's death was due to the size of Chauvin's. 

"The reason George Floyd is dead is because Mr. Chauvin's heart was too small," Blackwell said.

Earlier in his rebuttal, Blackwell told the jurors that they could "believe their eyes" when deliberating the case. 

Blackwell initially went after what he called "stories" that the defense had told, rather than what he described as truths. However, the defense objected to the use of the word "stories," which Judge Peter A. Cahill sustained. During the rebuttal, Blackwell attacked the defense's position that Floyd's death was caused by underlying health issues.

Dr. Andrew Baker, the chief medical examiner in Hennepin County since 2004, had previously testified that Floyd's heart disease and drug use contributed to his death, but police officers' restraint of his body and compression of his neck were still the primary causes.

Defense attorney Eric Nelson had argued that Floyd's death was caused by a combination of health issues in addition to Floyd's drug use, which Blackwell questioned, asking why the defense chose to focus on Floyd' drug use.

"Why are we talking about pills that are not in his system? We know what's in his blood stream already. We know he struggles with opioid addiction. Why are we talking about pills that we know were not in George Floyd. You have to decide that for yourselves ladies and gentleman," Blackwell said. "... the suggestion that he was somehow taking it in handcuffs in the police car, which makes no sense."

Blackwell later reiterated that there was no sign that Floyd died of a heart condition, and toward the end of his remarks, Blackwell asked the jurors not to lose sight of the facts.

"The unreasonable use of force is assault. Here was an assault and it contributed to the death of Mr. Floyd," Blackwell said. 

These are the charges Derek Chauvin faces

483d ago / 9:05 PM UTC

Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin faces three charges in his trial in the death of George Floyd. They are second-degree murder, which has a maximum sentence of 40 years; third-degree murder, which has a maximum sentence of 25 years; and second-degree manslaughter, punishable by up to 10 years.

But the recommended sentence for someone like Chauvin, who does not have prior convictions, is 12.5 years for second and third-degree murder, and four years for manslaughter, according to the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines.

To prove second-degree murder: 

Prosecutors have to convince the jury that Chauvin caused the death of Floyd while committing a felony. In this case, prosecutors will allege that Chauvin committed third-degree felony assault. But they don't necessarily have to prove Chauvin’s intent was to cause Floyd’s death.

To prove third-degree murder:

Prosecutors have to convince the jury of Chauvin’s state of mind. Minnesota's third-degree murder statute reads: "Whoever, without intent…causes the death of another by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life…" Prosecutors have argued that Floyd said 27 times that he couldn’t breathe — and that bystanders repeatedly warned Chauvin to get off of Floyd. There was controversy surrounding this charge. The judge initially dismissed it before an appeals court forced him to reconsider. In Minnesota, the charge was historically used to prosecute drug dealers who weren’t targeting specific individuals. But recently, former Minneapolis Police Officer Mohamed Noor was convicted of the charge and that has established new legal precedent.

To prove second-degree manslaughter:

Prosecutors will need to show beyond a reasonable doubt that Chauvin was "culpably negligent" and took an "unreasonable risk" with Floyd's life when he restrained him and that his actions put Floyd at risk of death or great harm.

483d ago / 7:46 PM UTC

Defense tries to use medical examiner findings against prosecution

483d ago / 7:25 PM UTC

Derek Chauvin’s defense tried Monday to use the testimony of the medical examiner who performed George Floyd’s autopsy and determined his cause of death against the prosecution. 

Attorney Eric Nelson pointed out during closing arguments that Dr. Andrew Baker initially avoided watching the bystander video because he didn’t want it to influence his autopsy. Baker, who has been the chief medical examiner in Hennepin County since 2004, did subsequently watch the video before determining Floyd’s cause of death. 

During cross-examination, Dr. Baker acknowledged to the defense that he saw no physical signs of asphyxiation, which contradicted other prosecution expert witnesses who said in their assessments that Floyd died from asphyxia. Those experts also testified that bruises and other injuries do not need to be present to determine that asphyxia occurred. 

The medical examiner previously testified that Floyd's heart disease and drug use contributed to his death, but police officers' restraint of his body and compression of his neck were still the primary causes.

"Mr. Floyd’s use of fentanyl did not cause the subdual or neck restraint, his heart disease did not cause the subdual or the neck restraint," Baker said.

Baker ruled Floyd’s cause of death was "cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression." The manner of death was ruled a homicide.

Defense tells jurors state needs to prove multiple other factors did not cause Floyd’s death

483d ago / 7:05 PM UTC

Derek Chauvin’s defense told jurors Monday during closing arguments that the state needed to convince them beyond a reasonable doubt that multiple other factors, including George Floyd’s medical history and drug use, did not cause his death.

Attorney Eric Nelson argued that the prosecution had to prove the stress of being arrested, the adrenaline caused by that stress, heart disease, hypertension, excited delirium, a paraganglioma and drugs in his system — or any combination of those factors — didn't lead to Floyd’s death.

Nelson said testimony from prosecution medical experts on Floyd’s cause of death that excluded these possibilities, “flies in the absolute face of reason and common sense."

Multiple prosecution witnesses testified they believed Floyd died from a lack of oxygen due to Chauvin's restraint for more than nine minutes.

Nelson directly targeted Dr. Martin Tobin, a renowned pulmonologist, who was arguably the prosecution's strongest medical witness. Tobin testified that Floyd died of a lack of oxygen.

Nelson zeroed in on testimony from Tobin that Floyd used his knuckles to push himself up to try to breathe. Nelson said that Floyd was in a side recovery at the moment Tobin described, meaning he should have been able to breathe.

"His entire testimony is based on theory, speculation, assumption," Nelson said.

Defense: There is ‘absolutely no evidence’ Chauvin intentionally used unlawful force

483d ago / 6:45 PM UTC

Derek Chauvin’s defense argued Monday there was “absolutely no evidence that Officer Chauvin intentionally, purposefully applied unlawful force." 

Attorney Eric Nelson said during closing arguments the evidence showed Chauvin was following his training as a police officer during his interaction with George Floyd.

"These are officers doing their job in a highly stressful situation, according to their training, according to the policies of the Minneapolis Police Department," he said. "And it's tragic, it's tragic.”

Defense argues bystanders distracted Chauvin at ‘critical moment’

483d ago / 6:30 PM UTC

Derek Chauvin’s defense argued Monday that concerns about the bystanders gathered around the scene of George Floyd’s fatal interaction with police distracted the former officer at the “critical moment” when Floyd took his last breath.

“As this crowd grew more and more upset or deeper into crisis, a very critical thing happens at a very precise moment,” attorney Eric Nelson told jurors Monday afternoon during closing arguments.

He said at that moment, Floyd took his last breath. At the same time, Nelson said Chauvin pulled out his can of pepper spray in response to the crowd’s reactions and another bystander who was an off-duty firefighter approached from behind, “startling him.”

“All of these facts and circumstances simultaneously occur at a critical moment,” Nelson said. “And that changed Officer Chauvin’s perception of what was happening.”

Throughout the trial, the defense has sought to portray the bystanders as a potential concern for the officers' safety and as a distraction.

Analysis: Defense showing videos of Floyd's death is a considerable risk

483d ago / 6:29 PM UTC

The defense must have felt they absolutely needed the jury to see certain things in the video because there was considerable risk in showing the prosecution’s strongest evidence.

I suspect the prosecution is likely pleased by this decision, reminding jurors of George Floyd repeatedly telling police that he couldn't breathe. 

Defense tells jurors to consider all evidence in determining what a ‘reasonable officer’ would have done

483d ago / 5:31 PM UTC

Derek Chauvin’s defense told jurors Monday to consider the “totality of circumstances and facts” known to the former officer when considering if a “reasonable officer” would have restrained George Floyd the way he did.

“The proper analysis is to take those 9 minutes and 29 seconds and put it into the context of the totality of the circumstances that a reasonable police officer would know,” attorney Eric Nelson said in discussing whether Chauvin’s use of force was justified. 

The argument seemed an attempt to redirect jurors from a refrain made by the prosecution to jurors during their opening statements and closing arguments, “Believe your eyes.” The prosecution has sought to focus jurors on the more than nine minutes Chauvin knelt on Floyd's neck as he lay pinned to the ground in handcuffs.

The jurors have seen extensive video footage of Floyd’s fatal encounter with police from multiple angles and from different sources.

Biden to deliver remarks after Derek Chauvin trial verdict


483d ago / 5:14 PM UTC

President Joe Biden is expected to deliver remarks after the jury in the Derek Chauvin trial renders a verdict, according to multiple administration officials.

The White House is monitoring the trial’s developments and is preparing a statement for Biden, who has been gaming out with his team for the last two weeks how to react to various verdicts.

The administration has also planned for possible public demonstrations in response to the verdict, including meetings with counterterrorism and homeland security advisers and Cedric Richmond, the White House director of public engagement.


Defense: Derek Chauvin is presumed innocent

483d ago / 4:55 PM UTC

Derek Chauvin’s defense attorney began his closing argument Monday by reminding jurors that his client is presumed innocent of the charges he faces over the death of George Floyd and that the prosecution must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

“He’s presumed innocent of these charges and this presumption remains with him throughout the course of the trial, the presentation of the evidence, throughout the course of your deliberations, until and unless the state has proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt,” Eric Nelson said Monday morning. 

“The defendant doesn’t have to try to catch up,” he said.

He reminded jurors that “proof beyond a reasonable doubt,” according to the definition read earlier by the judge, was “such proof as ordinary, prudent men and women would act upon in their most important affairs.” Meanwhile, “reasonable doubt” was defined as “a doubt that is based upon reason and common sense,” Nelson said.

"I submit to you that the state has failed to meet its burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt," he added.

Chauvin took off his mask for the defense's closing argument, and looked at the jury while his attorney spoke. He has worn a mask throughout the trial and seemed to be taking notes while both sides argued their cases.

Prosecution: ‘Being large and being on something is not a justification for the use of force’

483d ago / 4:25 PM UTC

Prosecutor Steven Schleicher told jurors Monday that George Floyd “being large and being on something is not a justification for the use of force” that Derek Chauvin used against him during his fatal interaction with police.

Schleicher said Chauvin “explained the basis of his actions” to one of the bystanders, 61-year-old Charles Charles McMillian. 

In police video, Chauvin could be heard saying in footage to McMillian that Floyd was a "sizable guy" who was "probably on something."

“His two justifications were that George Floyd was big, and that he might be ‘on something,'” Schleicher said Monday during his closing argument. 

Schleicher told the jurors they had heard the standards for use of force during testimony and that officers are authorized to use force “to respond to a threat, they’re not authorized to use force to respond to a risk.”

The attorney said while Floyd could have been a potential “risk,” his size and whether he had taken drugs alone did not make him a “threat” to Chauvin or the other officers and was not a crime.

“When questioned, their force expert witness conceded that the combination of the two, being large and being on something is not a justification for the use of force,” he said of one of the defense witnesses. “It just isn’t. That’s not what they get to do.”

Schleicher said Chauvin’s explanation was “not good enough” and was not following use of force policy or procedure. 

“He is not following the rules,” he added.

'Believe your eyes': Prosecution has a simple message behind its exhaustive argument

483d ago / 4:17 PM UTC

Behind the prosecution's detailed argument is a simple message to the jury: believe your own eyes.

In his closing argument, prosecutor Steven Schleicher repeated the same maxim with which the prosecution began. 

“You can believe your eyes,” said Schleicher, who has relied heavily on video and images of the events leading up to Floyd’s death to make his point.

It is an emotional appeal to the jury and a remarkably straightforward one. It was precisely the video of Floyd’s death that sparked the global uprising last summer and brought people to the streets in protest. Schleicher, it seems, ultimately believes that same video is his best argument for conviction.

"This case is exactly what you thought when you saw it first, when you saw that video. It is exactly that," Schleicher said. "You can believe your eyes... It's exactly what you knew. It's what you felt in your gut. It's what you now know in your heart. This wasn't policing; this was murder. The defendant is guilty of all three counts. All of them. And there is no excuse." 

An 'enormous burden': Chauvin trial jurors will face scrutiny — no matter their verdict

483d ago / 4:06 PM UTC

Henry King Jr. was a utility worker in Southern California when he was picked as a juror in one of the nation's most notable televised trials: the case against four Los Angeles police officers accused in the beating of a Black motorist, Rodney King.

King Jr., no relation to Rodney King, had seen the now-infamous camcorder footage of the traffic stop on March 3, 1991, and found himself as a key player in the courtroom drama the following year. The jury's decision nearly 30 years ago to acquit the officers — three white and one Hispanic — unleashed days of deadly rioting that devastated parts of Los Angeles and cleaved the city's communities along racial lines.

Now, King Jr. says that while he's aware that the trial in Minneapolis of former Police Officer Derek Chauvin is winding down with closing arguments Monday, his thoughts are with the panel of 12 jurors tasked with delivering a verdict — one that could become a catalyst for a fresh wave of protests like the ones that rocked dozens of American cities last year with the killing of George Floyd.

"This reminds me so much of my time and what we were going through," King Jr., 78, said.

"They're going to be going through a lot," he said of the jurors in Chauvin's trial. "I feel for them. They're going to have a tough time, no matter which way they go."

Click here to read the full story.

Prosecution's closing remarks highlight the daunting task ahead for the jury

483d ago / 3:59 PM UTC

The prosecution’s closing arguments are a reminder of just how much information jurors in this case have to consider, synthesize and reference while deliberating.

Prosceutor Steven Schleicher presented a chart to the jury, depicting the main points of his arguments for conviction. The chart also showed the experts whose testimony argued that the defense's case didn't add up. The prosecution called 38 witnesses, many whose testimony included detailed medical explanations.

The judge’s initial jury instructions served as a similar reminder, when he described the burden of proof and what the charges mean under state law.

After more than three weeks of arguments, evidence, and expert testimony, the task at hand for the jury is not a simple one, even if they already have their minds made up. It's why many experts don't expect a decision to be announced today.

483d ago / 3:31 PM UTC

Prosecution asks jurors: 'Would George Floyd have died' without Chauvin's actions?

483d ago / 3:22 PM UTC

Prosecutor Steven Schleicher asked the jurors “would George Floyd have died that day?” if Derek Chauvin hadn't restrained him for nine and a half minutes.

Schleicher, addressing the defense’s main arguments, dismissed claims that a drug overdose, enlarged heart, or carbon monoxide killed Floyd.

“Use your common sense. Believe your eyes. What you saw, you saw,” he said. 

During testimony the prosecution played extensive video of Floyd’s fatal interaction with police, including video from bystanders, officer body camera footage and surveillance video.

Prosecutor: "That's not resistance, that's compliance"

483d ago / 3:18 PM UTC

Walking the jury through a timeline of the events that led to George Floyd's death, prosecutor Steven Schleicher repeatedly pointed to instances where Floyd had done exactly what officers asked of him, saying: "That's not resistance, that's compliance."

Schleicher cited Floyd getting out of his vehicle, letting the officers handcuff him, sitting on the sidewalk, and giving officers his name as examples of his compliant behavior. The examples were meant to counter the defense's argument that Floyd was noncompliant and a danger to the officers.

The prosecution said that Floyd was in crisis, which made compliance more difficult for him, and the officers, who had been trained in crisis intervention, either ignored it or didn't recognize it.

"The officers wouldn't listen to him," Schleicher said.

State of Minnesota: ‘This is not a prosecution of the police’

483d ago / 3:00 PM UTC

Prosecutor Steven Schleicher said in his closing argument that the murder trial of Derek Chauvin is “not a prosecution of the police, it is a prosecution of the defendant.”

Schleicher called policing “a most noble profession" and added “to be very clear, this case is called the ‘State of Minnesota vs. Derek Chauvin,’ this case is not called the ‘State of Minnesota vs. the police.’”

During witness testimony, the prosecution called multiple law enforcement officers and experts that testified Chauvin’s actions against George Floyd violated policy and were an unnecessary and deadly use of force. Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo's testimony was a rare instance of a police chief testifying against a police officer. The chief said Chauvin’s actions "absolutely" violated department policy and had previously called Floyd’s death a “murder.” 

Schleicher said Monday that Chauvin "chose pride over policing."

“This is not an anti-police prosecution, it’s a pro-police prosecution,” he said.

“The defendant abandoned his values, abandoned the training and killed a man,” the attorney added.

"He had to know": prosecution emphasizes intent

483d ago / 2:56 PM UTC

Prosecutor Steven Schleicher focused a portion of his closing argument on the intent behind Derek Chauvin's actions.

“He had to know,” Schleicher said, emphasizing the amount of time Chauvin had his knee on Floyd’s neck, keeping it there even after the ambulance arrived. 

“He did it on purpose. This was not an accident,” he said of Chauvin.

“He is not on trial for who he was. He is on trial for what he did. That is what he did,” Schleicher's said,  pointing to a photo of Chauvin with his knee on Floyd’s neck. “He knew better, he just didn’t do better.”

"His name was George Perry Floyd Jr.": prosecution starts on solemn note

483d ago / 2:45 PM UTC

"Members of the jury: His name was George Perry Floyd Jr. and he was born on October 14, 1973 in Fayetteville, North Carolina," prosecutor Steven Schleicher said in the first words of his closing argument.

The line was reminiscent of the "say his name" chant of protesters after Floyd's death and the deaths of other people at the hands of police officers.

Schleicher's solemn opening is a preview of what we can expect from the prosecution's closing argument, which will try to remind the jury why Chauvin's actions merit a guilty verdict, and also make sure the jury sees Floyd as a person who was loved and whose life mattered.

Prosecution begins closing arguments

483d ago / 2:30 PM UTC

The prosecution in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd began its closing argument Monday morning.

The prosecution’s closing is being delivered by Steven Schleicher, a former federal prosecutor and veteran trial attorney. 

Closing arguments come after three weeks of testimony from dozens of witnesses that included bystanders, law enforcement officials and medical experts.

The jury is expected to begin deliberations Monday afternoon.

Chauvin is charged with second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Judge Cahill reads jury instructions before the start of closing arguments

483d ago / 2:29 PM UTC

Before the prosecution and defense are set to give their closing remarks, Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill read the jury its instructions on how to make their decision Monday morning.

Cahill outlined the three different charges Chauvin is facing — second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter — and the burden of proof necessary for the jury to find Chauvin guilty of the charges. He also outlined what is considered reasonable and unlawful use of force for a police officer.

The jury is expected to begin deliberating after closing arguments conclude.

483d ago / 11:24 AM UTC

'Lackluster performance' by Chauvin defense leaves experts debating trial's outcome

483d ago / 11:21 AM UTC

Several legal experts who provided observations about the performances of the prosecution and the defense, both of which have rested their cases after nearly three weeks of witness testimony in the closely watched trial, said the defense had fewer expert witnesses testify than had been expected.

"The defense was actually weaker than I thought," said David Schultz, a visiting law professor at the University of Minnesota. "I was expecting more witnesses, more medical testimony."

Schultz said he suspects other witnesses defense attorney Eric Nelson sought out were unwilling to testify because they were concerned they'd be perceived as being "on the wrong side of history."

Rebecca Kavanagh, a criminal defense attorney in New York who is closely watching the case, said: "What is more surprising to me than the quality of the prosecution is the lackluster performance of the defense. I would contrast this with the high-powered defense team George Zimmerman had, which I think was probably instrumental in his acquittal."

Click here to read the full story.

483d ago / 11:20 AM UTC

Pig's head thrown at former home of Chauvin defense witness

483d ago / 11:18 AM UTC

Vandals threw a pig's head at the one-time home of a former California police officer who served as a defense witness for Derek Chauvin, the ex-officer accused of killing George Floyd, police said.

The incident occurred early Saturday morning at the house in Santa Rosa, California, where Barry Brodd used to live, the Santa Rosa Police Department said in a statement.

The department said Brodd appeared to have been targeted over his testimony.

“Mr. Brodd has not lived at the residence for a number of years and is no longer a resident of California,” the department said. “Because Mr. Brodd no longer lives in the city of Santa Rosa, it appears the victim was falsely targeted.”

Click here to read the full story