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George Floyd trial halted to consider additional murder charge after Derek Chauvin appears in court for first time

Justin Vallejo
·2-min read
Derek Chauvin in court on 8 March 2021 (Reuters)
Derek Chauvin in court on 8 March 2021 (Reuters)

The trial of Derek Chauvin over the death of George Floyd has been delayed as the court considers the possible reinstatement of a previously dropped third-degree murder charge.

Mr Chauvin appeared in court for the first time on Monday as jury selection was scheduled to begin in the trial of the former Minneapolis police officer, who is charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter.

The presiding judge ruled jury selection would be delayed at least 24-hours, until Tuesday, as prosecutors sought to reinstate the third-degree charge that was dropped in favour of murder in the second-degree.

Mr Chauvin looked on as the trial got underway to select 12 jurors. and up to four alternates, in a process that is expected to take about three weeks. Opening arguments are scheduled for 29 March.

Mr Floyd’s sister, Bridgett Floyd, sat in the back of the court to represent the family, as about 2,000 National Guard troops were stationed throughout Minneapolis in anticipation for the trial to begin.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals on Friday ruled Hennepin County district judge Peter Cahill should have followed precedent in the third-degree murder charge.

Mr Cahill delayed the trial until he could hear from the state’s Court of Appeals on whether to continue with jury selection until the third-degree murder charge is considered.

While third-degree is a lesser charge than second-degree murder, it gives the prosecution a higher likelihood of conviction.

Reuters
Reuters

Mr Chauvin’s defence attorney, Eric Nelson, intends to ask the Supreme Court to overturn the Court of Appeals ruling to reconsider the third-degree charge, according to The Minneapolis Star Tribune.

"I want to inform the court that we're prepared to try this case," he said. "It is not our intent to cause delay. However, I feel I have an ethical obligation to my client to [petition the Supreme Court]."

Waiting for the Supreme Court to rule on the matter could delay the trial by at least 30 days if jury selection can’t continue in tandem, Mr Cahill said.

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