Derek Chauvin trial: Jury selection continues
MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - Jury selection continued for a second day in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who is charged in the death in George Floyd. Prosecutors and defense attorneys will continue to question and challenge potential jurors until they can seat a 12-person jury, with two alternates.
Court proceedings started at 8 a.m. Wednesday with a hearing on preliminary motions, before moving on to jury selection at 9 a.m. The trial is being streamed live, gavel to gavel, at fox9.com/live.
READ MORE: Who are the selected jurors?
Supreme Court won't hear 3rd-degree murder charge appeal
The Minnesota Supreme Court says it will not hear any appeal from Derek Chauvin’s legal team as it relates to adding a third-degree murder charge in the death of George Floyd.
In a ruling Wednesday, Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea said the petition filed by Chauvin’s team was denied, meaning the decision to add the charge will be determined by Judge Peter Cahill, who is presiding over the trial.
After the Supreme Court ruling, Cahill said a discussion over adding the third-degree murder charge will take place Thursday at 8 a.m. He added that there is still a "jurisdictional issue" to work out with the Court of Appeals, which previously ruled he must reconsider reinstating the third-degree murder charge in the case.
Thao, Lane won't testify at Chauvin trial
The attorneys for two of the former Minneapolis police officers charged in the death of George Floyd, Tou Thao and Thomas Lane, are not permitting them to testify in Chauvin's trial.
Thao and Lane both gave tape-recorded voluntary statements to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, counseled by their attorneys, and signed a criminal investigation warning understanding that their statements could be used against them.
In court Wednesday morning, Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, said he confirmed with each of the former officers' attorneys on Tuesday night that they are "not permitting their clients to testify in the trial."
Nelson was discussing his motion to exclude both statements in the trial, arguing that he would not be able to cross examine either former officer. Prosecutors argued experts rely on those statements.
Cahill did not make a full ruling on the motion, but he did say he will allow experts who testify at the trial to say they reviewed those statements.
Motions on witness, 'spark of life' testimony
The first motion heard on Wednesday morning was a defense motion regarding the upcoming witness testimony of witness Donald Williams. Williams was seen in the video of Floyd’s deadly arrest wearing a Northside boxing sweatshirt, urging officers to get off.
Williams is trained in boxing, wrestling and mixed martial arts. The state wants him to testify about the "blood choke hold" he was witnessing, knowing it was a dangerous move and why he was so agitated. The defense is asking for his testimony to be limited.
Judge Cahill ruled Williams can testify about what he witnessed during Floyd’s deadly arrest and the lens in which he was watching given his prior training in mixed martial arts and more. However, the judge said Williams cannot be a medical expert opining about Floyd’s cause of death or what killed him.
Both sides also discussed what is known as "spark of life" evidence where witnesses are allowed to come in and talk about George Floyd as a loved human being, brother and friend. Prosecutors want to call family members and friends to talk about Floyd through the years with photos.
Judge Cahill drew a line about "spark of life" testimony, specifically regarding Floyd’s prior drug use. He said the state entitled to contextualize Floyd’s past through his family and friends, but cautioned that if they go down that road, the defense will be allowed to cross-examine those witnesses about Floyd’s character.
Derek Chauvin charges
The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled on Friday that Cahill must reconsider reinstating the third-degree murder charge against Chauvin.
Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter for his role in George Floyd’s death last May. He was initially charged with third-degree murder as well, but Cahill dismissed the charge last October, saying it did not apply to this case.
The prosecution decided to push back on the third-degree murder charge after the Court of Appeals upheld the third-degree murder conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor in a deadly 2017 shooting. Cahill denied the state's motion to reinstate the third-degree murder charge, standing by his decision to dismiss the charge. However, the Court of Appeals ruled Cahill made the mistake of not following the Noor ruling as precedence.
"The district court therefore erred by concluding that it was not bound by the principles of law set forth in Noor and by denying the state’s motion to reinstate the charge of third-degree murder on that basis," read the order.
Chauvin trial streaming and TV information
The Chauvin trial will be live streamed, gavel to gavel, at fox9.com/live and the FOX 9 News App. You can also find the FOX 9 stream on Tubi through connected TVs. Portions of the trial are likely to be carried live by several broadcast networks as well as Court TV.
The Derek Chauvin trial will continue Tuesday, March 9 at 8 a.m. Central Time in Courtroom 1856 of the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis. During jury selection, until all the preliminary motions are heard by Judge Cahill, court will start at 8 a.m. with a hearing on preliminary motions, before moving on to jury selection at 9 a.m.
QUICK READ: Derek Chauvin trial essential info and FAQs
Jury selection process
To decide the jury, prosecutors and Chauvin’s defense attorneys will question each potential juror one at a time, separately from the others.
Each potential juror has already filled out a questionnaire asking about their knowledge of the case, police connections and attitudes towards the justice system as well as their media habits, which will be provided to the attorneys and the judge before jury selection.
Jury to remain anonymous
Potential jurors and jurors will only be referred to by a random, previously assigned number because Judge Cahill has ordered their identities to remain a secret for the duration of the trial. At the conclusion of the trial, Judge Cahill will decide when the jurors’ identities can be made public.
The jury will be partially sequestered during the trial and fully sequestered while they are deliberating, which means they cannot go home until they reach a verdict or the judge determines they are hung. However, the judge can order full sequestration of the jury at any time if the partial sequestration proves ineffective in keeping the jurors free from outside influence.
Opening statements in the trial are scheduled to begin on March 29. A verdict in the Chauvin trial is not expected until mid to late April.
Protests and marches in Minneapolis
Hundreds of protesters gathered in downtown Minneapolis Monday morning on the first day of Chauvin's murder trial to demand justice for Floyd, carrying a banner that read "The world is watching."
Crowds demand justice for George Floyd as the Derek Chauvin trial begins Monday.
Protests are planned almost daily in Minneapolis, while the city has spent around $1 million securing the Hennepin County Government Center where the trial is taking place.
No special COVID-19 vaccines for trial
Gov. Tim Walz turned down a request to vaccinate everyone in the courtroom before the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
Walz said parties involved in the trial asked him to move them up in the priority list several weeks ago, which would have been enough time to get both doses before jury selection.
Who will be in the courtroom?
Trial Judge Peter Cahill
1 judge's clerk
1 court reporter
Derek Chauvin, the defendant
The jury. The empaneled jury will consist of 12 jurors and 2 alternates.
Up to 4 lawyers or staff for the prosecution, led by Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank.
Defense attorney Eric Nelson and up to 2 staff from his law firm
1 witness at a time in the courtroom
1 George Floyd family member
1 Derek Chauvin family member
2 members of pooled media - 1 print and 1 broadcast or digital media
1 broadcast technician
Courtroom 1856 was renovated specifically for the Derek Chauvin trial to maximize capacity and maintain COVID-19 social distancing standards. The courtroom is located on the 18th floor of the Hennepin County Government Center.
Judge Cahill has ordered certain behavior in the courtroom:
Jurors, attorneys, witnesses and support staff must wear masks and keep six feet from other people.
Masks can be removed when giving testimony, examining witnesses, giving opening statements or closing arguments. Attorneys must conduct all witness examinations and arguments from the lectern.
Any sidebar conferences will be conducted over wireless headsets. Chauvin will be outfitted with a headset to listen to these conferences, which will be off-the-record.
Jurors and potential jurors will be escorted to courtroom each day by deputies or security. No one can have contact with jurors except the judge, court personnel and deputies. Any attorney contact is limited to the jury selection process when court is in session.
Potential jurors will only be referred to by a randomized number.
Extra security is in place at the Hennepin County Government Center as jury selection for the Derek Chauvin trial begins Monday, March 8, 2021. (FOX 9)
Barricades and barbed wire are in place around the Hennepin County Government Center, where the trial will take place, and Minneapolis City Hall. Security measures will also be going up around other city infrastructure, such as the police precinct buildings.
"Operation Safety Net" is the name of the unified command for the Minneapolis and St. Paul police departments as well as the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, Metro Transit Police Department, Minnesota State Patrol, Minnesota National Guard and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Gov. Tim Walz also activated the Minnesota National Guard to help with security.
Officials say their goal is to preserve the First Amendment right of people to peacefully protest while preventing large-scale violent disturbances during the trial.
The city plans to create contracts with a network of community groups to help with de-escalation and communication "during periods of heightened tension." The city council unanimously approved the plan, authorizing up to $1.2 million in funding. Minneapolis' Office of Violence Prevention will be requesting applications for the program and hopes to have finalized contracts by the end of March.
The city scrapped a plan to pay local social media influencers to post city-approved messages to dispel rumors.
So far, the City of Minneapolis has closed only one street in downtown Minneapolis. South 6th Street, including the sidewalk, is closed between 3rd and 4th avenues next to the Hennepin County Government Center.
Metro Transit is not planning any disruptions to bus or light rail service to downtown Minneapolis, although there may be detours around the Hennepin County Government Center.
The parking ramp at the Government Center will be closed during the trial. Skyway access to the center will also be restricted.
38th and Chicago during the Chauvin trial
The intersection of E 38th Street and Chicago Avenue, where Floyd died, will remain closed during the Chauvin trial. The area, also known as George Floyd Square has been closed to public traffic since his death, becoming a gathering site for community members and activists.
Plans are in the works to reopen 38th and Chicago to the public after the trial. The city sent a survey to residents and business owners in the area to choose between two traffic options for reopening the square.
Death of George Floyd
George Floyd, 46, died on May 25, 2020 while being detained by Minneapolis police officers Derek Chauvin, Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane at the intersection of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue. The intersection has remained closed to traffic since Floyd's death and has been dubbed George Floyd Square.
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 17: People participate in a demonstration on August 17, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Community members came together for a rally to protest the city's potential forceful reopening 38th Street and Chicago Ave, an unofficial
A widely-shared video taken by a bystander showed Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes while he repeatedly cried, "I can’t breathe."
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo announced the firing of all four officers the following day. Chauvin was arrested and charged with Floyd’s death on May 29 and the three others were arrested and charged with aiding and abetting on June 3.
TIMELINE: George Floyd's death to Derek Chauvin's trial
The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's report ruled the death of George Floyd a homicide. The updated report stated that George Floyd experienced a cardiopulmonary arrest while being restrained by law enforcement.