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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.

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

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

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."

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

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.

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

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"

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’

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

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

"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

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

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.