MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill ruled Thursday morning to reinstate a third-degree murder charge for Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged in the death of George Floyd.
The Minnesota Supreme Court previously denied Chauvin’s petition for further review of a third-degree murder charge. The ruling meant Cahill had to make the decision to reinstate the additional charge against Chauvin, who also faces second-degree murder and manslaughter charges.
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According to experts, a third-degree murder charge could make it easier for prosecutors to land a conviction. It’s defined as “whoever, without intent to effect the death of any person, causes the death of another by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life.” The maximum sentence is 25 years.
Breaking : Judge says he will reinstate 3rd degree murder charge in #DerekChauvincase – prosecution has fought hard to add this charge back in – prosecution will now have 3 charges against Chauvin 2nd degree, 3rd degree and manslaughter #georgefloyd
— esme murphy (@esmemurphy) March 11, 2021
Cahill says the decision to reinstate the charge does not immediately affect the charges against the other three former Minneapolis police officers charged in the Floyd case. That will be addressed later. Their trial is set for August.
Initially, Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder in the death of George Floyd, but Cahill dropped the charge, citing probable cause. Last month, however, an appeals court ruling in the case of Mohamed Noor set precedent just weeks before Chauvin’s trial was set to begin.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who is leading the prosecution, released a statement following the ruling.
“The charge of 3rd-degree murder, in addition to manslaughter and felony murder, reflects the gravity of the allegations against Mr. Chauvin. We look forward to presenting all three charges to the jury,” he said.
The appellate court ruled last week that Cahill needed to make a decision on the third-degree murder charge in line with the Noor precedent.
With the fourth and fifth jurors chosen Wednesday, the jury panel is so far composed of three white men in their 30s, a Black man in his 30s and a woman in her 20s or 30s who appears to be a Person of Color.
The fifth juror that was seated is a Black man in his 30s or 40s who is an IT security manager. He speaks multiple languages, and came to the U.S. 14 years ago. After watching news clips of Floyd’s arrest, he says his impression of Chauvin was negative — but he could put that aside.
Right now, sources involved in the proceedings say they are pleasantly surprised that jury selection is moving at this pace, and that there is the increasing expectation that the process will take less than the scheduled three weeks.