(FOX 9) - On streets surrounding the federal courthouse in St. Paul, barricades that have been in place since mid-January are now coming down, opening Jackson and Robert Streets to traffic once again.
But key questions remain now that Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane were convicted of all counts on Thursday on federal charges of depriving George Floyd of his constitutional rights. After a five-week trial, a jury of 8 women and 4 men found them guilty of failing to intervene in Derek Chauvin’s unreasonable use of force and failing to provide medical aid.
Sentencing for the three men is not yet set. Derek Chauvin pled guilty to similar federal charges in December and prosecutors asked for 25 years. He’s also not been sentenced.
The federal law under which all four were charged has an undetermined range of penalties, any number of years up to life in prison. It’s unlikely Thao, Kueng and Lane would get as stiff a penalty as Chauvin, but jurors did rule on the verdict forms that the three did also cause the death of Floyd, which is an aggravating factor in sentencing.
"Judge Magnuson has been on the bench almost 40 years. He’s a very wise man," said Kevin Burke, a former Chief Judge in Hennepin County, now retired.
"I think that the community and the defendants, for that matter, should realize that he is not hot-tempered. He’s not prone to grand-standing and that I think everyone should be confident he’ll be very thoughtful on how he exercises the discretion that he has."
The other question is how these verdicts might influence the upcoming aiding-and-abetting murder trial for the three former officers planned for June in Hennepin County. Might this prompt the defendants and the state to reach a plea deal?
The additional costs for Chauvin’s murder trial cost just over 2 million dollars, nearly $800,000 for security alone. The costs for Thao, Kueng and Lane’s upcoming trial would likely be less. But Burke does not thing that is a factor.
"I don’t think that time and money will play a major factor in this case," Burke told FOX 9. "I think it’s very much about seeking justice, there’s accountability now from the state’s perspective, based on the conviction."
The bigger factors could be whether the three former, and now convicted, officers want to go through it all again. And if prosecutors want to put key eyewitnesses through difficult testimony for a third time.
"That would be the primary one," said Burke. "Do I really want to put the witnesses through another trial? Certainly would be a factor they would consider."