3rd-degree murder charge in Chauvin case to be argued March 1 in Appeals Court

A mug shot of Derek Chauvin, the fired Minneapolis police officer charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd. (Hennepin County Jail / FOX 9)

The Minnesota Court of Appeals says it will hear oral arguments over reinstating the third-degree murder charge in the case of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with the murder of George Floyd. Chauvin’s defense team has until Friday to file their response. 

Fast-tracked oral arguments are scheduled for Monday, March 1 as Chauvin’s trial is scheduled to begin on March 8. 

Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill dismissed the third-degree murder charge against Chauvin in October, saying that it does not apply in this case. The state moved to reinstate the charge earlier this month, after the appeals court upheld the third-degree murder conviction for Mohamed Noor, the former Minneapolis officer who was found guilty in the deadly 2017 shooting of Justine Ruszczyk Damond. 

Cahill denied the state’s motion to reinstate the third-degree murder charge, as well as their motion to add an aiding and abetting third-degree murder charge against the other three officers charged in connection with Floyd’s death: Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane. 

The state appealed Cahill’s rejection of their motion last week.  

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said Tuesday he is "gratified" the court will hear the state’s appeal. 

"The Court of Appeals has already decided in a separate case that the third-degree murder charge is appropriate," Ellison said in a statement. "Accordingly, we believe the interests of justice are served by reinstating the third-degree murder charge against defendant Derek Chauvin and believe the jury should hear that charge. We look forward to presenting our case to the Court."

Chauvin is currently charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Thao, Kueng and Lane are all charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. All four officers were fired the day after Floyd’s death. 

Thao, Kueng and Lane will be tried together in August.