Derek Chauvin defense seeks new trial, state wants 30-year sentence

Derek Chauvin's defense attorney Eric Nelson is asking for both a downward sentencing departure and a new trial from Judge Peter Cahill while the state is asking for a 30-year sentence for the former Minneapolis police officer. 

According to court documents, the defense argues that "the requisite substantial and compelling circumstances for a downward dispositional departure are present in this case and urges this court to grant its motions and impose a probationary sentence, limiting his incarceration to time served, or in the alternative, a downward durational departure in crafting its sentence for Mr. Chauvin."

In another filing Wednesday, the defense asked the court for a new trial, citing "pervasive publicity" and juror misconduct among other things.  

In a filing Wednesday, the state of Minnesota requested a 360-month, or 30-year sentence for Chauvin. The state argues that Chauvin was "particularly cruel" in the death of George Floyd and that, along with other aggravating factors, is sufficient for the judge to find for an upward sentencing departure. 

Main points from the Chauvin defense

The Chauvin defense team laid out the following points for why his sentence should have a downward departure. 

His age: "He has been preliminarily diagnosed with heart damage and may likely die at a younger age like many ex-law enforcement officers" and "convictions for officer-involved offenses significantly increase the likelihood of him becoming a target in prison."

His lack of criminal history: "presentencing investigation concluded Mr. Chauvin’s criminal history score is zero."

His cooperation in court: "If Mr. Chauvin could remain compliant and law-abiding under circumstances of his pretrial release and his trial, he will certainly remain compliant and law-abiding while serving a stringent probationary term."

Support from his family, ex-wife and the community: "Mr. Chauvin has also received thousands of letters of support since his arrest in 2020 from local and international communities."

Additionally, the defense listed the following reasons as why Chauvin should get a new trial: 

  • Trial should be held at a different venue
  • Media attention tainted the trial, specifically when the city of Minneapolis announced a $27 million settlement with George Floyd's family
  • Juror misconduct, claiming a juror misled the court by failing to mention he attended a march in Washington, D.C.

Aggravating factors

The state offered the following as aggravating factors in the case: 

  • Children were present at the time of the crime
  • Chauvin was in a position of authority or power
  • Judge Cahill found the state proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the act was "particularly cruel"
  • Involved a group of three or more people

Chauvin's sentencing is scheduled for June 25. Some legal experts believe Chauvin is looking at 25-30 yrs in prison, while the maximum is 40 years. Judge Peter Cahill has found aggravating factors that will allow for a stiffer sentence.

Chauvin has been housed at MCF-Oak Park Heights since a Hennepin County jury found him guilty on state murder and manslaughter charges in connection to George Floyd’s death.

Meanwhile, in federal court, Chauvin is charged along with his three co-defendants, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng, with violating Floyd’s civil rights while acting under government authority as police officers.

Chauvin is also charged separately in federal court with violating the rights of a 14-year-old in 2017 for striking the boy in the head with a flashlight multiple times and pinning him to the ground with his knee on the neck and upper back of the teen.