Monday June 21, 2021

Convict in Floyd murder case Chauvin asks for new trial

Published : 05 May 2021, 14:02

  DF News Desk

File Photo Xinhua.

Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer convicted of murdering African American George Floyd, filed a request Tuesday for a new trial, reported Xinhua.

The motion, filed by Chauvin's attorney Eric Nelson, cites factors including "the interests of justice, abuse of discretion that deprived the Defendant of a fair trial, prosecutorial and jury misconduct, errors of law at trial, and a verdict that is contrary to law."

Chauvin was convicted on April 20 of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd's death.

Nelson wrote in the filing that "the Court abused its discretion when it denied Defendant's motion for a change of venue" and that publicity around the pretrial hearing escalated "the potential for prejudice in these proceedings."

Nelson also pointed to the court's rules surrounding the jury, which he claimed were not strict enough to prevent jurors from being affected by media coverage of the trial.

"The publicity here was so pervasive and so prejudicial before and during this trial that it amounted to a structural defect in the proceedings," he wrote.

"The Court abused its discretion when it failed to sequester the jury for the duration of the trial, or in the least, admonish them to avoid all media, which resulted in jury exposure to prejudicial publicity regarding the trial during the proceedings, as well as jury intimidation and potential fear of retribution among jurors, which violated Mr. Chauvin's constitutional rights to due process and to a fair trial," Nelson contended.

"The jury committed misconduct, felt threatened or intimidated, felt race-based pressure during the proceedings, and/or failed to adhere to instructions during deliberations, in violation of Mr. Chauvin's constitutional rights to due process and a fair trial," Nelson wrote in conclusion.

John Stiles, deputy chief of staff for Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, pushed back on Nelson's filing, saying in a statement, "The court has already rejected many of these arguments and the State will vigorously oppose them."

The deadline to make post-conviction filings is Wednesday, according to Minnesota court rules.

Citing "aggravated factors" in the case, prosecutors, in court documents filed April 30, sought a more severe sentence for Chauvin, whose three-count verdict carries a combined maximum sentence of 75 years in prison, though his actual sentence, expected on June 16, is very likely to be much more lenient according to Minnesota sentencing guidance.

Prosecutors argued in the documents that Chauvin should receive a tougher sentencing because Floyd was a "vulnerable" victim, and that he was pinned down as Chuavin knelt on his neck. They said Chauvin continued to kneel on Floyd's neck despite Floyd saying he couldn't breathe 27 times before becoming unresponsive.

The court documents also noted that Floyd was "treated with particular cruelty," given that Chauvin continued to kneel on Floyd's neck despite pleas from the man and bystanders. The total timespan of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck was nine minutes and 29 seconds, the video provided by prosecutors as evidence during Chauvin's trial showed.

Prosecutors further stated that Chauvin abused his position of authority, noting that three other officers at the scene -- who have also been fired by the police department following the incident and who will stand trial on Aug. 23 -- "actively participated in the crime."

The court documents also noted that the encounter occurred "in the presence of multiple children." Four of the witnesses at Chauvin's trial were minors at the time of Floyd's death, one of whom was four years old.