Noor verdict: A look at the third-degree murder conviction

A jury found former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor guilty of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter and not guilty of second-degree murder in the 2017 shooting death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond.

The state defines third degree murder as "Whoever, without intent…causes the death of another by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life.”

Two years ago, the Baltimore police officer was charged with third-degree murder in connection with the death of Freddie Gray, who died in police custody after he was driven to jail in a police van. The officer was found not guilty.

Between 2007-2016 in Minnesota, 14 offenders have been sentenced for murder in the third-degree involving a "depraved mind." Thirty-eight others have been sentenced in that period under a different section of the statute charging drug dealers in overdose cases.

The average sentence for third-degree murder, if convicted, and without a previous criminal history, is in the range of 10 to 15 years in prison, according to the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission. In Minnesota, inmates typically serve two-thirds of their sentence while incarcerated.

The jury of 10 men and two women deliberated for 10 hours before reaching a verdict Tuesday afternoon. FOX 9 spoke with defense attorney Marsh Halberg moments after the verdict came down.

Halberg said jurors may have acquitted Noor of the second degree murder charge - which is an intentional act to cause a death but without premeditation - because of the defense argument that a police officer has to use deadly force. But, Halberg was surprised the jury convicted Noor of third degree murder along with manslaughter because it is so rarely charged. 

"I didn't think murder three would happen, and the speed of it - regardless of the convictions - on a murder case, to convict somebody in basically a day or less than a day with 60 witnesses and a thousand exhibits is lightning speed," he said.

“The murder three charge is kind of unusual. It’s not charged that often. It’s basically an eminent dangerous action where you are shooting your gun across the body that almost shows the level of a depraved mind. So, that phrase is so unclear that it usually causes jurors to struggle with that phrase.”

Noor was immediately taken into custody. His sentencing is set for Friday, June 7 at 9 a.m.