MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – An expedited decision from the Minnesota Court of Appeals means former officer Derek Chauvin could face an additional charge of murder in the George Floyd case. Chauvin’s trial in Minneapolis is scheduled to begin Monday.
“It was a very strong opinion,” defense attorney Joe Tamburino said, who is not affiliated with the case.
The prosecution wanted the charged added, along with the second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, in the trial of the former MPD officer. Derek Chauvin is accused in the killing of George Floyd.
The judge removed the third-degree charge last fall, and later upheld his decision. But the court of appeals says he was wrong.
“Today the Court of Appeals said you have to reinstate the third-degree, and there’s only a small opening in the window where the trial court can still deny it,” Tamburino said.
It’s the charge a jury found former MPD officer Mohammed Noor guilty of in the murder of Justine Ruszczyk Damond.
The court of appeals recently upheld that conviction, setting precedence.
In this case, Tamburino, says the extra count helps the prosecution.
“With three counts, those are three opportunities to try to get a conviction. Also proving a third-degree murder is easier than proving a second-degree unintentional felony murder. Third-degree is basically extreme indifference to someone else’s life. It’s if you’re doing something so reckless and dangerous that you don’t care if someone dies,” Tamburino said.
There is a still chance for the defense to appeal or for the judge to not allow third degree.
“Both of those decisions are very unlikely. Everything is ready to go for trial, and I sincerely doubt anything will get in the way of Monday starting,” Tamburino said.
The judge is scheduled to take up motions before jury selection begins on Monday. Tamburino expects that’s when all of this to be sorted out.
In a statement, the Attorney General’s Office said “We believe the Court of Appeals decided this matter correctly. We believe the charge of 3rd-degree murder, in addition to manslaughter and felony murder, reflects the gravity of the allegations against Mr. Chauvin. Adding this charge is an important step forward in the path toward justice. We look forward to presenting all charges to the jury in Hennepin County.”
The defense has not provided a comment.