MINEAPOLIS (AP) – Lawyers in the trial against a former police officer in Minneapolis accused of the murder of George Floyd are ready to make their closing arguments on Monday, with each party trying to distill three-week testimony to persuade jurors to present their views on the correct sentence.
For prosecutors, Derek Chauvin recklessly snatched Floyd’s life as he and two other officers chained him to the street for 9 minutes, 29 seconds in front of a corner market, despite Floyd’s repeated cries that he could not breathe – actions that he said required condemnation for manslaughter, but also two counts of murder.
For protection, Floyd, who was Black, took a risk by swallowing fentanyl and methamphetamine and then resisting officers trying to arrest him ̵
Each party will produce key readings to support their account of what killed Floyd in a case that shook America 11 months ago and continues to resonate. An anonymous jury will later hand down sentences in a courthouse surrounded by concrete barriers and razor wire, in a troubled town heavily fortified by National Guard members and just days after a new outrage erupted over the police murder of a 20-year-old black man. in a nearby suburb.
Lawyers are not limited in time, although legal experts say excessive arguments risk losing the jury’s attention and may be less effective. Prosecutors Steve Schleicher and Jerry Blackwell will share the conclusion, with Schleicher leading and Blackwell coming to refute defenseman Eric Nelson’s last word.
Chauvin, 45, is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Experts expect Schleicher to examine jurors through the elements of the charges. All three require the jury to conclude that Chauvin’s actions were a “significant causal factor” in Floyd’s death – and that his use of force was unreasonable..
Schleicher may remind jurors of key testimonies from countless medical experts from the prosecution who testified that Floyd died of suffocation caused by anchoring to the pavement. He and Blackwell can cite a wealth of testimony from force experts who say Chauvin’s actions are clearly inappropriate, as well as Minneapolis police officers who say they are out of his training.
The video played a huge role in the process, both to support expert testimony and to drive home the emotional impact of Floyd’s grief and death. Prosecutors can play the video during its closure, and experts say they expect it.
Convictions must be unanimous, which means that Nelson must cast doubt on the minds of only one juror on various points. Its conclusion will certainly return to the topics of his cross-examination of prosecution witnesses and the brief defense case he substantiated.
Nelson will certainly point out how the district medical expert, Dr. Andrew Baker, did not conclude that Floyd died of asphyxia. – to challenge him with the medical experts of the prosecution, although Baker called Floyd’s death a murder and testified that he believed that Floyd’s heart had receded in part due to his pressure on the ground.
Nelson will also certainly remind the jury of Floyd’s drug use, perhaps in the same language he often used during the testimony phase – with questions that emphasize words like “illegal.” Despite the long duration of Floyd’s restraint, he is likely to portray Chauvin’s use of force again, dictated by “fluid” and “dynamic” factors that should not be assumed in the second, including the prospect that Chauvin was distracted by a threatening group of bystanders.
Nelson is also likely to question perhaps the strongest single part of the state’s case – the video of Floyd’s arrest, including the video of the casual observer Darnela Fraser, which largely establishes public perception of the events. Nelson argues that camera angles can be deceptive, and uses other views to convince jurors that Chauvin’s knee has not been on Floyd’s neck all along.
“If I were Nelson, I would do a lot of things because a lot of things have to be done,” said Joe Friedberg, a local defender who was not involved. “He’s in desperate trouble here.”
Fourteen jurors heard testimony, two of them deputies. If Judge Peter Cahill follows the usual practice of dismissing the last two elected alternates, the 12 to discuss will include six whites and six blacks or multiracial jurors..
The second-degree murder requires prosecutors to prove that Chauvin intended to harm Floyd. The third-degree murder requires proof that Chauvin’s actions were “extremely dangerous” and committed with indifference to the loss of life. The second-degree murder required jurors to believe that he had caused Floyd’s death through negligence and knowingly risked serious injury or death.
Each census carries a different maximum sentence: 40 years for second-degree manslaughter, 25 years for third-degree murder and 10 years for second-degree manslaughter. The sentencing guidelines require much less time, including 12 1/2 years for each murder case.
Weber reports from Fenton, Michigan.
Find the full coverage of George Floyd’s death on AP: https://apnews.com/hub/death-of-george-floyd