“Hail Mary” in defense of Derek Chauvin: legal experts | Black Lives Matter news

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The prosecution in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin made a strong case for the conviction that puts the defense in a “Hail Mary” situation after weeks of testimony from experts and repeated parts of the video showing the death of George Floyd, lawyers told Al Jazeera.
The team of prosecutors, made up of two deputy prosecutors Matthew Frank and Erin Eldridge and outside lawyers Jerry Blackwell and Steve Schleicher, closed their case on Tuesday, allowing defense attorney Eric Nelson to present Chauvin’s side.

“Overall, they should be very proud of their presentation. The experts they chose were simply magnificent, ”Mike Padden, a lawyer with 34 years of experience in Minneapolis trials, told Al Jazeera.

The defense case is based on the theory that Floyd’s drug use, not Chauvin’s restraint, was ultimately the cause of death. The defense is also expected to attempt to prove that Chauvin’s restraint of Floyd was part of his training as a police officer.

The prosecution called on doctors, including cardiologists and pulmonologists specializing in hearts and lungs, respectively, to dispute this.

They also called in use of force experts and current Minneapolis police officers, including the police chief, to testify that Chauvin’s restraint on Floyd was not part of his training.

Third degree murder

Gene Rossi, a former U.S. prosecutor now in private practice, said the prosecution has proven its case for third degree murder and manslaughter.

Rossi predicted, however, that the jury would likely acquit Chauvin of the second degree murder charge, which requires a level of premeditation to kill that is not evident in the events leading up to Floyd’s death.

“If I’m a police officer, I don’t want to be convicted of manslaughter or any kind of murder,” Rossi told Al Jazeera. “I think he can be easily found guilty.”

An image of George Floyd’s arrest is shown on a screen on the ninth day of the trial of former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin on April 8, 2021, in this courtroom sketch. [File: Jane Rosenberg/Reuters]

While the defense is still making its case, Rossi said the first three witnesses did not help Chauvin.

Debbie Hines, a former Maryland state attorney now in private practice, said she believed the prosecution had presented its case very well.

“The prosecutors have done a remarkable and phenomenal job in this case,” Hines said.

“They wanted to be sure they highlighted all the I’s and crossed all the T’s and I think they did. They presented a clean case with no problem, ”Hines told Al Jazeera.

But this is not a “slam dunk” that Chauvin will be condemned because of the “racial overtones” of a “white policeman on trial for the death of a black man,” Hines said.

The defense “has an easier case because all it has to do is convince one of these 12 jurors that they created a reasonable doubt that Derek Chauvin was not a significant factor leading to the death of George Floyd, ”Hines said.

“The defense will do anything to try to demean the character of George Floyd. They will say he used drugs. They will say that he had already been arrested, that he had heart disease, that he had signs of a potential overdose, ”she said.

“I salute you marie”

Padden, for his part, acknowledged the defense’s needs to sow the seeds of doubt, but he wasn’t sure how Nelson would fare. The video of Floyd’s death, which has been shown several times before the jury, “is so damning, I think you could make a reasonable argument that the video alone establishes the elements you need for a murder in the middle. third degree ”.

Activists hold placards berating police as they march on the tenth day of Chauvin’s trial, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, April 9, 2021 [File: Nicholas Pfosi/Reuters]

But Padden added that the key to instilling that doubt will be that Chauvin will take the stand, which could open him up to damaging cross-examination from the prosecution. The defense has yet to say whether Chauvin will testify.

But, “he has no choice,” said Padden.

“It is Hail Mary time. This is how bad it is. This is how late they are. Will he be hammered in cross-examination? Yes. Should he testify? Yes. ”

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