The prosecution and defense are set to give opening statements Monday in the trial of a former Minneapolis police officer accused of murder in George Floyd’s death.
Prosecutors’ central piece of evidence against the officer, Derek Chauvin, is likely to be a video that helped ignite protests and rioting in cities across the country. Mr. Chauvin’s strongest defense likely lies in the forensic and medical evidence and expert testimony that could cast Mr. Floyd’s death as an event of his own making.
Outside lawyers say Mr. Chauvin’s trial is shaping up as a legal battle between two different types of evidence that have both proved effective in other trials: visceral visuals versus technical details. Mr. Chauvin’s fate hinges on what the jury finds most compelling during a trial expected to last a month.
Mr. Chauvin, 44 years old, has pleaded not guilty to both second-degree murder, the crime of unintentionally causing Mr. Floyd’s death while assaulting him, and to third-degree murder, which Minnesota law defines as causing the death of another through an eminently dangerous act and evincing a depraved mind. For someone with no prior felony offenses like Mr. Chauvin, Minnesota sentencing guidelines recommend a sentence of 128 to 180 months for both charges, though the maximum punishment is higher.
Mr. Chauvin also faces a lesser charge of second-degree manslaughter. Three other officers are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder in connection with Mr. Floyd’s death and are expected to face trial in the late summer. Their lawyers all say none of them committed any crime.
Source: WSJ – US News