Jury Selection in Chauvin Murder Trial On Hold
Day One of the trial of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd currently stands in recess while awaiting clarification of a ruling from the Minnesota Court of Appeals on adding 3rd degree murder to Chauvin's charges.
Although it was initially expected that jury selection would begin today, Judge Peter Cahill has sent potential jurors home while awaiting an update from the Court of Appeals. Jurors are expected to return tomorrow. Cahill has indicated that this is a temporary delay and that he will "proceed [with the trial] until someone tells me to stop."
Last October, Judge Cahill ruled that the 3rd degree murder charge against Derek Chauvin be dropped, while keeping the more severe 2nd degree murder charge. 3rd degree murder, which indicates a depraved intent to kill not specifically directed against a single person, is a rarely used charge under Minnesota law. However, former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor was convicted of 3rd degree murder for the killing of Justine Diamond. Because of this, the Court of Appeals has ordered that Cahill was wrong to dismiss the charge in Chauvin's case, and ordered him to "reconsider" in line with their ruling.
During this morning's consideration of the motion to add the charge, Cahill ruled that the trial could proceed with the additional charge added later since the Minnesota Supreme Court could still overrule it, but after a recess decided to send potential jurors home and request clarification.
Adding 3rd degree murder charges would be a huge win for prosecutors since Chauvin could be convicted even if the jury does not believe he specifically intended to kill George Floyd. The charge carries the same punishment as 2nd degree murder. However, it could potentially delay the trial significantly if the decision is appealed to the Minnesota Supreme Court, or to allow attorneys from both sides to prepare.