‘I’m not persuaded’ – Judge in George Floyd case rejects defense request to move the court proceedings and separate trials for four former Minneapolis cops accused of murder
The trial of defendants Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao will face trial together in Minneapolis Judge cahill also dismissed defense request for separate trial
The former Minneapolis police officers charged in George Floyd’s death will were seeking separate trials
A judge rejected defense requests to split up and move the court proceedings out of Minneapolis
Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill handed on Thursday ruled that the murder trial of four former Minneapolis cops for the murder of George Floyd will remain in the current jurisdiction
Defense attorneys argued that pretrial publicity had made it impossible for the four men to get a fair trial in the city where George Floyd was killed
They also said witnesses could be intimidated, and jurors could be affected by chants from a crowd outside
Cahill said he was ‘unpersuaded that moving the trial would improve security‘
He also said he believes the jury can be protected from outside influences
Chauvin is charged with unintentional 2nd-degree murder and 2nd-degree manslaughter
Lane, Kueng and Thao are charged with aiding and abetting
A judge on Thursday rejected defense requests to move the trial of four former Minneapolis police officers charged in George Floyd’s death, and also ordered that all four will be tried together instead of separately.
Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill ruled after defense attorneys argued that pretrial publicity had made it impossible for the four men – Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao – to get a fair trial in Minneapolis.
They also cited a September 11 hearing in which the men and their attorneys were confronted by angry protesters outside the courthouse, saying it showed that holding the proceeding in the same area where Floyd died would be unsafe for participants.
Defense lawyers asserted that witnesses could be intimidated, and jurors could be affected by chants from a crowd outside.
But Cahill said he was unpersuaded at the moment that moving the trial would improve security, and that he believes the jury can be protected from outside influences.
‘No corner of the State of Minnesota has been shielded from pretrial publicity regarding the death of George Floyd,’ Cahill wrote.
‘Because of that pervasive media coverage, a chance of venue is unlikely to cure the taint of potential prejudicial pretrial publicity.’
The judge said he was willing to revisit the issue later if circumstances warrant. In a separate order, however, he said the names of the jurors will be kept confidential.
The judge also ruled in another order that the trial can be televised from the courtroom.
Defense attorneys had also argued that the men should face separate trials, as each officer tried to diminish their own role in Floyd’s arrest by pointing fingers at the other.
Judge Cahill rejected the motion, observing that the complications of separate trials were too great and that trying the officers together would ‘ensure that the jury understands … all of the evidence and the complete picture of Floyd’s death.
‘And it would allow this community, this State and the nation to absorb the verdicts for the four defendants at once,’ he concluded.
George Floyd, a black man died May 25 after officer Derek Chauvin of the Minneapolis police department, who is white, pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes as he pleaded: ‘I can’t breathe.’ Floyd had both hands cuffed behind his back, on his face on the ground while three officers knelt on top of him.
Video of Floyd’s death with now fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pressing his knee into George Floyd’s neck during the arrest, sparked protests around the country and felt around the world.
The other three other former officers, J. Alexander Keung, Tou Thao and Thomas Lane, either helped in holding Floyd down or in the case of Thao, held onlookers at bay while the killing happened.
All four officers involved were fired, now scheduled to stand trial in March.
Chauvin is charged with unintentional second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He is currently out on $1million bond.
The three other former officers – Lane, Kueng and Thao – are charged with aiding and abetting.
They were also released on bond.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, whose office is prosecuting the case, in a statement said the rulings ‘represent another significant step forward’ in the pursuit of justice for Floyd and the community.
‘The murder of George Floyd occurred in Minneapolis and it is right that the defendants should be tried in Minneapolis,’ Ellison said.
‘It is also true that they acted in concert with each other and the evidence against them is similar, so it is right to try them in one trial.’
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