On Thursday, Judge Peter Cahill reinstated third-degree murder charges against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the May 25, 2020, killing of George Floyd. The decision follows an MN appellate court ruling that stated Cahill erred in dropping the third-degree murder charge last fall.
Judge Cahill, the presiding judge over the trial, cited a lack of probable cause when he previously dropped the charge. But on Wednesday, he acknowledged that he did agree with parts of the appellate court’s analysis, which found that the conviction of former Minneapolis Police Officer Mohamed Noor set a precedent in the killing of Justine Ruszczyk Damond. Noor was convicted of third-degree murder in the 2017 shooting death of Ruszczyk Damond. He is currently serving a 12.5-year sentence.
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With the additional charge, jurors now have three options to consider when weighing the evidence against Chauvin. He already faced second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter charges.
Experts have noted that the third-degree murder charge should be easier to prove as it doesn’t include an intent to kill, unlike the second-degree murder charge. In Minnesota, the maximum sentence for second-degree murder is 40 years and for third-degree murder, it’s 25 years.
Defense Attorney Eric Nelson said he and his client Chauvin felt confident about the court’s decisions thus far and were not seeking to “restart the process.”
After Cahill’s ruling Thursday morning, the jury process continued as scheduled. To date, six jurors have been seated. Three of the jurors are people of color— one Hispanic, an African immigrant, and a Black or biracial woman, according to pool reports. Thus far, the speed of the jury selection process has surpassed legal experts’ expectations.
Opening statements for the trial are still set for March 29.
Watch today’s trial coverage below courtesy of CourtTV: