MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — After 14 days of testimony, with 44 witnesses taking the stand, the attorneys in the Derek Chauvin trial will give their closing arguments Monday in the biggest criminal case in Minnesota history. After that, the case will be handed to the jury, which will be sequestered until they come to a decision. Here are live updates of the proceedings Monday morning.
9:30 A.M.: PROSECUTION PRESENTS CLOSING ARGUMENTS
Prosecutor Steve Schleicher delivered closing arguments in the trial of Chauvin Monday morning, beginning by telling jurors who George Floyd was before his name became the center of a global movement for justice.
“On May 25, 2020,died face down on the pavement, right on 38th and Chicago in Minneapolis. Nine minutes and 29 seconds, nine minutes and 29 seconds. During this time George Floyd struggled, desperate to breathe,” Schleicher said. “So desperate to breathe, he pushed with his face — with his face! — to lift himself, to open his chest, to give his lungs room to breathe.”
Schleicher said that Floyd referred to Chauvin as “Mr. Officer” in asking for help. He drew a distinction between policing and Chauvin’s actions last May.
“Our expectation is that the police are going to help … To be clear, this case is called the State of Minnesota vs. Derek Chauvin, not the State of Minnesota vs. police,” he said. Policing in a noble profession.”
Schleicher said that he was not representing an anti-police prosecution but a pro-police prosecution, saying that Chauvin did not follow the rules. Floyd’s death was set into motion by a counterfeit $20 bill, but Schleicher said that he died as the result of something worth even less — Chauvin’s ego, his pride.
Schleicher said that while Chauvin was on top of Floyd, “he had to know” what was happening “right beneath him … (Floyd) was completely limp.”
He also reminded the jury that “this is not ‘the trial of George Floyd.’ … He is not on trial; he didn’t get a trial when he was alive.”
9 A.M.: JURY INSTRUCTION
Judge Peter Cahill instructed the jury on the law. The jury will be sequestered following closing arguments.
Testimony in the trial ended on Thursday, giving the jury a long weekend to prepare for sequestration.
— Jason DeRusha (@DeRushaJ) April 19, 2021
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — After 14 days of testimony, with 44 witnesses taking the stand, the attorneys in the Derek Chauvin trial will give their closing arguments Monday in the biggest criminal case in Minnesota history. After that, the case will be handed to the jury, which will be sequestered until they come to a decision.
For the state, prosecutors Steve Schleicher and Jerry Blackwell will attempt to show that Chauvin’s kneeling on Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds led to Floyd’s death. They will argue that Chauvin should be convicted on all three of the counts he is facing: second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter.
In opening statements, the prosecutors told the jury to believe their eyes when watching the widely-seen bystander video of Floyd’s arrest, which showed Chauvin, who is white, pinning down Floyd, who was Black, as he was lying prone, in handcuffs and pleading for air.
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In Chauvin’s defense, attorney Eric Nelson will attempt to cast doubt that Chauvin’s actions led to Floyd’s death, highlighting that Floyd swallowed pills containing fentanyl and methamphetamine as officers tried to arrest him on May 25 outside of Cup Foods. Nelson is expected to argue that the drugs, combined with his underlying heart issues, led to his sudden death while he was being restrained outside the convenience store, where he had allegedly tried to pass a fake $20 bill.
Closing arguments are slated to begin at 9 a.m., with Schleicher making the case for the prosecution. That’ll be followed by the defense’s statements. Each presentation is expected to last about an hour, although there are no set time limits. After the the defense’s presentation, the state will give a rebuttal, which will be delivered by Blackwell.
WCCO-TV is streaming gavel-to-gavel coverage of the trial on CBSN Minnesota. Jason DeRusha will lead the coverage while longtime Twin Cities defense attorney Joe Tamburino, who is not affiliated with the case, will give legal analysis.
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After closing arguments, Judge Peter Cahill will give instructions to the jury before they are sequestered. He will also release two jurors from the case, as they are serving as alternates. In total, 12 jurors will decide whether or not Chauvin is guilty of the charges he faces. If Cahill follows the common practice of dismissing the last two jurors selected, the jury will be made up of six white and six Black/multi-racial jurors.
The jury’s decision must be unanimous, either convicting or acquitting Chauvin on each count. Additionally, if the jury decides to convict, they must also consider enhancing the charges, as children were among the witnesses to Floyd’s death. Per the state’s sentencing guidelines, Chauvin faces 12 and-a-half years in prison for each murder count. However, the maximum possible penalty for those charges is higher.
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Tamburino, WCCO-TV’s legal expert, expects the jury to deliberate for two days before coming to a decision. “Usually when they are sequestered, they come back [with a decision] faster,” he said.
The jury will deliver their verdicts in the courthouse in downtown Minneapolis, which is heavily fortified with razor wire and concrete barriers. Hundreds of Minnesota National Guard troops are stationed in the city as part of Operation Safety Net, the state’s plan to quell any unrest that should follow. Already, the Twin Cities are on edge after the police shooting of Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, where protesters have gathered outside the city’s police station each night for more than a week.