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Pivotal day upcoming at Derek Chauvin’s murder trial
The Minneapolis judge at the murder trial of ex-cop Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd will make key rulings Friday that could alter the case — even as the jury of 12 was finally seated Thursday.
Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill is expected to decide on a request by Chauvin’s lawyers to delay or move the trial to another city due to the high-profile nature of the case.
Cahill is also due to decide if details of Floyd’s earlier arrest in 2019 may be brought up in court and whether prosecutors can call a psychiatrist to the stand to testify about Floyd’s reaction when cops sought to arrest him.
Prosecutors argued that Dr. Sarah Vinson should be allowed to say that Floyd’s reluctance to comply with cops before his May 25 death wasn’t resistance — but understandable anxiety.
“The defense is doing a full-on trial of George Floyd, who is not on trial, but that is what they’re doing,” Jerry Blackwell, a member of the state’s prosecution team, told Cahill.
Opening arguments at the trial are scheduled to being on March 29.
Chauvin attorney Eric Nelson has argued for the change of venue and for a delay in the trial, saying an announcement last week that Minneapolis agreed to a $27 million wrongful death settlement with Floyd’s family has tainted the jury pool.
In a press briefing Thursday, Minneapolis City Attorney Jim Rowader denied that releasing news of the settlement had an impact on the proceedings.
“There is no good timing to settle any case, particularly one that is as involved and sensitive as this,” said Rowander, who was joined by Mayor Jacob Frey.
“There is no guarantee, for instance, that that deal would be available two, four, six weeks from now or six months from now,” Rowander said. “And we decided to move forward with the Floyd family when all was said and done.”
Meanwhile — and despite the difficulty empaneling jurors through the first week of jury selection — lawyers in the case picked three more on Thursday, including the first black woman on the panel.
That completes the dozen panelists needed to move forward to the trial, pending the selection of two alternates.
The jury now consists of three black men, two white men, four white women, two multi-racial women, and the black woman, a retired grandmother, seated on Thursday.
Chauvin is charged with second- and third-degree murder and manslaughter in the case, which sparked worldwide protests against police brutality and for racial justice.
Viral video of the incident shows Chauvin pressing his knee to Floyd’s back for nearly nine minutes while Floyd is handcuffed on the ground at a Minneapolis intersection.
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