MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Friday’s hearing in the George Floyd murder trial will be the first time former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin will appear in person.

Until now, he has appeared remotely from Minnesota Correctional Facility-Oak Park Heights, where he’s in custody.

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The other three ex-officers – J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao – are free on bail.

All four men want the trial moved out of Minneapolis because of pretrial publicity. Judge LaJune Lange, who served in Hennepin County for 21 years before retiring, doubts that will happen.

“When you have saturation throughout the state, the nation and the world with the same information, a change of venue motion would only serve to reduce persons of color and persons who have diverse experiences in the jury pool,” Lange said.

Other issues include whether the four ex-officers should be tried separately or together. Attorneys for Kueng, Lang and Thao have argued they tried to stop or were distracted by the crowd as Chauvin pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck.

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Chauvin’s attorney has argued that Floyd was positive for COVID-19, and that his death was the result of very high levels of fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system.

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Judge Lange says Judge Peter Cahill cannot let the high-profile nature of this case affect him.

“The judge has a very weighty decision when more eyes are on, but the judge has to make the same decision whether it’s powerful special interest or a poor person that is homeless,” Lange said.

Judge Cahill has 90 days to rule, but he has said in writing he hopes to have decisions on most of these issues by Oct. 15.

All four of the former officers are asking the cases against them be dismissed, but that is not expected to be addressed at Friday’s hearing.

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Esme Murphy