Derek Chauvin asks appeals court to throw out murder conviction

Derek Chauvin asks appeals court to THROW OUT murder conviction for George Floyd’s death because publicity ‘poisoned the jury’ and denied him a fair trial

  • Derek Chauvin’s defense asked the Minnesota Appeals Court to toss out his 2021 murder conviction for the death of George Floyd
  • They argued that the incident, which was filmed as Chauvin pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes, was too widely reported on 
  • The case also led to nationwide protests, which the defense said ultimately ‘poisoned the jury’ to seek a guilty verdict 
  • The prosecution, however, said that Chauvin did receive a fair trial and asked for the appeal for a new trial and venue to be rejected  

Derek Chauvin has asked the Minnesota Appeals Court to toss out his murder conviction for George Floyd’s death, claiming he was denied a fair trial. 

Chauvin’s attorney, William Mohrman, argued Wednesday that because video and reports of Floyd’s death were so widely publicized, kicking off nationwide protests, the jury was essentially ‘poisoned.’ 

‘You can’t hold a trial in a community where the jurors are looking at the possibility of a riot in the event the jury acquits the defendant,’ Mohrman said.   

The defense is also demanding that the court assign a new venue for a new trial.

Chauvin was sentenced to 22- and-a-half-years in prison for the murder of Floyd, and last July, he was given another 21 years on federal charges of civil rights violations. 

Ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was sentenced to 22- and-a-half-years in prison for the murder of Floyd after pressing his knee against his neck for more than nine minutes 

Chauvin’s lawyer, William Mohrman (above), argued that the defendant could not get a fair trial in Minneapolis to the high volume of media coverage and protests over Floyd’s death 

In his arguments on Wednesday morning, Mohrman said the unprecedented publicity surrounding the trial led to prejudices forming over Chauvin’s case. 

Mohrman and his team counted more than 1,000 stories and articles from local media stations naming Chauvin, claiming the coverage was ‘overwhelmingly hostile’ for the defendant. 

Video of the Minneapolis police officer pinning Floyd to the ground with the cop’s knee on the man’s neck was widely circulated. 

Floyd’s final words, ‘I can’t breathe,’ also became the slogan for the Black Lives Matter movement that erupted nationwide. 

Although the majority of protests were peaceful, the defense noted that a demonstration in Minneapolis devolve into a riot that claimed two lives and saw ‘property damage exceeded $500,000,000–the second most destructive riots in American history.’  

Other factors that led to an allegedly unfair trial, the defense attorney said, included the city’s $27 million settlement with Floyd’s family being announced during the jury selection, tightened security at the courthouse and a recent police killing in the city suburbs.  

Mohrman also argued that Hennepin County Judge Pete Cahill improperly excluded evidence that could have been favorable to Chauvin, and accused prosecutors of misconduct.

The prosecution, however, said that Chauvin (pictured during his sentencing) did receive a fair trial and asked for the appeal for a new trial and venue to be rejected

Prosecutors, however, said Chauvin had a fair trial and received a just sentence. 

They said pretrial publicity had blanketed the state making a change of venue for the trial pointless, and that Cahill took extensive steps to ensure the selection of impartial jurors. 

They also said he took sufficient steps to shield the jurors from outside influences, so there was no need to sequester them before deliberations. 

Neal Katyal, one of the prosecutors for the state, said: ‘The court and parties painstakingly selected a jury over two weeks. Forty-four witnesses testified, jurors watched video footage and heard from bystanders. 

‘They learned that Chauvin was trained against prone restraints because of positional asphyxia, which is the very thing that killed Floyd. Judge Cahill managed this trial with enormous care,’ Katyal added. 

The appeals court will also looking into whether it was legally permissible to convict Chauvin of third-degree murder, and whether Cahill was justified in exceeding the 12 1/2 years recommended under the state’s sentencing guidelines. 

The appeals court has 90 days to make a decision on the case. 

Three other officers who were present during Floyd’s murder – Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane, were also convicted of civil rights charges  

While Chauvin waived his right to appeal under his federal plea deal, he continued to pursue his appeal of his murder convictions in state court.

Even if he wins his appeal, his federal sentence will keep him in prison longer than his state sentence likely would because he would qualify for parole earlier in the state system.

Three other officers who were present during Floyd’s murder – Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane – were convicted of federal civil rights charges last February and are serving their sentences in out-of-state federal prisons.

Lane and Kueng accepted plea deals on state charges of aiding and abetting manslaughter and are serving concurrent sentences. But Thao declined to plead guilty. 

Attorneys for both sides agreed to let Cahill decide on Thao’s guilt based on stipulated evidence. That verdict is pending, as is his federal appeal.

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