The Minnesota Court of Appeals has ordered a judge to reconsider adding a third-degree murder to charges against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was charged with the murder of George Floyd last year.
The development could slow down Chauvin̵
Floyd, who was Black, died on May 25 after Chauvin, who is white, knelt on his neck while handcuffed and begged that he could not breathe.
The murder, which an observer accidentally recorded on video, sparked the largest civil rights uprising in the United States since the 1960s, spilling over into riots, but reviving the Black Lives of Matter movement and forcing a new reliance on police brutality and wider systemic racism.
A Minnesota court said Hennep County District Judge Peter Cahill made a mistake last year in rejecting the prosecution’s request to reinstate the third-degree murder charge against Chauvin.
Cahill had to follow the precedent set by the appellate court when it upheld the third-degree murder sentence of former Minneapolis officer Mohamed Noor in the 2017 death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, the court said. The Australian called 911 to report that she had witnessed possible sexual violence. Nur appealed to the state supreme court.
It was unclear on Saturday whether Friday’s decision would delay Chauvin’s trial. He is charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter. Chauvin has the opportunity to appeal the decision to the state’s Supreme Court, which will force Cahill to adjourn the trial, said Ted Sample-Jones of Mitchell Hamline Law School in St. Paul.
But if Chauvin does not appeal, the professor added, “then Judge Cahill will almost certainly reinstate the third-degree charge,” and the selection of jurors could still begin Monday, with additional decisions on the additional fee before arguments are due by March 29. .
A resumption of third-degree homicides would increase the chances of a murder conviction. Initially, Floyd’s family insisted on a first-degree murder charge and outrage is possible if Chauvin is not convicted.
Legal experts say retrieving a third-degree murder case could be a strategic move by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who is leading the prosecution, to give jurors a better chance of being convicted, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
The accusation can be considered by the jurors as a middle ground. This would also allow the prosecution to present a number of theories based on various elements that must be met in order to be convicted on the relevant charges. This could also serve as a bargaining chip in the plea negotiations, Richard Fraise of the Robin Institute for Criminal Law and Criminal Justice told the Minneapolis newspaper.
Cahill can order a hearing this weekend or announce early Monday.
Last year, Donald Trump’s attorney general, Bill Barr, dismissed the deal that Chauvin pleaded guilty to third-degree murder, in part for fear it would be considered too lenient, the New York Times reported last month. The newspaper added that Chauvin wanted to be spared from federal civil rights charges after the trial for his murder.
Minneapolis and its twin city, St. Paul, have prepared for the process by erecting barricades, fences and barbed wire. The Minnesota National Guard is on alert, although authorities are calling for a peaceful protest.