MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — Judge Peter Cahill has denied prosecutors’ requests to rewrite his sentencing order in the Derek Chauvin case to delete suggestions that child witnesses did not suffer trauma.
Attorney General Keith Ellison, in a filing released Thursday, stressed that he’s not seeking any change to Chauvin’s 22 1/2-year sentence. But he asked Judge Peter Cahill to revisit the document to remove suggestions that four girls who witnessed George Floyd’s death last year and testified at Chauvin’s trial weren’t traumatized by what they saw.READ MORE: NYC George Floyd Statue Vandalized, Cleaned Prior To Long-Planned Move To Union Square
He cited research showing that children process trauma differently from adults and that adults tend to discount the impact of trauma on Black girls.
“Discounting the trauma of the children who testified at trial — in an authoritative judicial opinion, no less — will only exacerbate the trauma they have suffered,” Ellison wrote. “The Court should correct the public record to avoid that result.”
Ellison noted that Darnella Frazier, who shot a widely seen social media video of Floyd’s demise, broke down crying on the stand while Alyssa Funari testified that she had been unable to return to the scene ever since.
WEB EXTRA: Click here to read the full order.READ MORE: Minneapolis City Council Committee OK's Measure To Put Replacing MPD On November Ballot
This week, Cahill issued an order that says the substance of Ellison’s letter mischaracterized Cahill’s sentencing order, necessitating a response.
“It is certainly possible that the witnesses experienced some level of emotional trauma from this incident, but the State failed to prove it,” Cahill wrote, also addressing suggestions that the court was operating under presumptions that “adults view Black girls as less innocent and more adult-like than their white peers.”
“It is the State that is injecting supposed racial presumptions in this case, not this Court,” Cahill added.
Cahill noted he had previously found aggravating factors that allowed him to sentence Chauvin to 10 years above the presumptive penalty under state sentencing guidelines. Two factors justifying a higher sentence, he wrote, were Chauvin’s abuse of his position of trust or authority as an officer and his treating Floyd with particular cruelty.
Cahill also previously wrote that he agreed with the defense that the girls were free to leave at any time. He noted that two were seen smiling and laughing as officers kept Floyd pinned down.MORE NEWS: Derek Chauvin Trial Cost Hennepin County $3.7M
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