MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Supreme Court on Wednesday, March 10, denied Derek Chauvin’s petition for a decision made last week by the state Court of Appeals to be reviewed.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals decided late last week that Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill, who is presiding over the trial, was wrong in denying the prosecution’s request to reinstate a third-degree murder charge against Chauvin.
Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson petitioned the Minnesota Supreme Court Monday to review the decision, but the Supreme Court denied the petition Wednesday. Cahill said they would discuss the matter Thursday morning, March 11, when court begins.
Prosecutors have argued that jury selection could not begin if all the charges against Chauvin are not established.
Prosecutors filed a motion Monday, March 8, with the state Court of Appeals to stop the trial until the matter regarding the third-degree murder charge is resolved. Nelson also filed a motion with the state Court of Appeals in opposition to the prosecution’s request. As of Wednesday, there was no word from the Court of Appeals on that matter.
— Katrina Pross, St. Paul Pioneer Press
Fourth and fifth jurors seated Wednesday
Meanwhile, fourth and fifth jurors were seated Wednesday in the trial of the former police officer facing criminal charges for his role in the death of George Floyd during an arrest that caused an outcry around the world.
Cahill has set aside three weeks to screen jurors, aware that most people have heard of Chauvin and even seen the bystander's video showing him with his knee on the dying Floyd's neck for nearly 9 minutes.
Three jurors were seated on Tuesday, March 9, after saying they could put aside their misgivings about Chauvin: A white man who is a chemist at an environmental testing lab; a woman who appeared to be of mixed race who said she was "super excited" to serve on a jury; and a white man who works as an auditor.
After questions from Nelson, and a prosecutor from the Minnesota attorney general's office, a fourth juror was selected.
The man, who called himself a sales manager and appeared to be white and in his early 30s, said he tended to think police made more trustworthy witnesses and were more likely to testify based on facts rather than emotions. He also said that he had "strongly favorable" views of the Black Lives Matter movement.
"In my college years, I took a couple of great courses following the civil rights movement, and they really just led me on the path of racial injustice throughout our history," he told the court. He said he was an avid sports fan and supported the right of Black football players to protest police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem before games.
- DAY 2: 3 jurors chosen in second day of Derek Chauvin trial over George Floyd death
- DAY 1: Derek Chauvin jury selection paused as court considers additional charge
Later, a Black man who said he immigrated to the United States 14 years ago to study in Nebraska and now worked in information technology told the court he believed that "all lives matter," but that Black lives matter more because he thought Black people had been marginalized.
He also said he disagreed with calls by some activists to "defund the police," saying that if police are expected to keep communities safe then "they have to have the right to have the funds."
He became the fifth of the 12 jurors and up to four alternates the judge is seeking to seat.
The trial on second-degree murder and manslaughter charges is seen as a landmark case on police violence against Black people in the United States, a country where police officers are rarely found to be criminally responsible for killing civilians.
Chauvin, 44, is white, and Floyd, who was being arrested on suspicion of using a counterfeit $20 bill to buy cigarettes, was a 46-year-old Black man who grew up in Houston before moving to Minneapolis.
Chauvin and the three other officers who made the arrest were fired from the Minneapolis Police Department the day after Floyd's death, which was ruled a homicide by the medical examiner. Chauvin's lawyers say he stuck to his police training and did not use excessive force. The three other former police officers involved are to go on trial on charges of aiding and abetting Chauvin later this year.
Chauvin was released from jail on a $1 million bond last October and is being tried in a courtroom in the Hennepin County Government Center, a tower in downtown Minneapolis now ringed with barbed-wire fencing and concrete barricades. Protesters chanted anti-racism slogans and blocked traffic on Monday, but few appeared in the largely deserted downtown streets on Tuesday.