Appeals court panel sends Chauvin case back to trial judge

06 Mars, 2021, 05:09 | Auteur: Yves Courtet
  • A man holds up his fist while hundreds of demonstrators march to protest against police brutality and the death of George Floyd

A Minnesota court of appeals ruled on Friday that the judge in the case against Derek Chauvin, who is facing criminal charges for the killing of George Floyd last May, must reconsider a third-degree murder charge against the former police officer. But the Minnesota Court of Appeals recently ruled in a separate case that third-degree murder could be applied even if the "death-causing act" is directed at a specific person, and ruled on Friday that this precedent binds the district court.

And if Chauvin decides not to appeal, Sampsell-Jones said, Cahill could still begin jury selection Monday, then decide in the next three weeks - before opening arguments - whether to reinstate the charge.

State prosecutors had originally included the third-degree murder charge against Chauvin, under a statute with a complex recent legal history. "We believe the charge of 3rd-degree murder, in addition to manslaughter and felony murder, reflects the gravity of the allegations against Mr. Chauvin".

He has been charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter. Prosecutors did not immediately return a message seeking comment on whether they would seek a delay.

A reinstated third-degree murder count could increase the prosecution's odds of getting a murder conviction.

A spokesman for Minnesota's attorney general's office says the length of time will be presented as evidence in the trial.

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Videos show Chauvin, who is white, kneeling on Floyd's neck for almost nine minutes on a sidewalk outside a grocery store on May 25 as he pleaded for his life and then stopped moving. In the wake of his death, civil unrest spiraled into violence locally.

The incident sparked a summer of nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice.

Cahill ruled last October that third-degree murder under Minnesota law requires proof that someone's conduct was "eminently risky to others", plural, not just to Floyd.

The appeals court rejected the argument by Chauvin's attorney that the Noor ruling shouldn't have the force of law unless and until it's affirmed by the Minnesota Supreme Court, which will hear oral arguments in Noor's appeal in June.

The other three former officers involved in Floyd's arrest and subsequent death, Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Keung and Tou Thao, have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter. Their trial is scheduled to start at the end of August. "The district court therefore erred by concluding that it was not bound by the principles of law set forth in Noor and by denying the state's motion to reinstate the charge of third-degree murder on that basis".

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