The prosecutors in former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin’s murder trial argued Thursday that the now-convicted murderer received a fair trial and should not be granted a new one.
“The State firmly opposes Defendant’s post-verdict motions,” a memorandum submitted to the Hennepin County District Court says. “The jury unanimously convicted Defendant of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter based on the overwhelming evidence establishing Defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”
In early May, Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson filed a motion in that court to declare a mistrial, vacate the convictions, and grant Chauvin a new trial. A jury convicted Chauvin of intentionally killing George Floyd in late March, nearly a year after a viral video showed Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck and back during an arrest.
But Chauvin’s attorney argued that that jury was unfairly prejudiced.
Nelson’s motion claimed that Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill and the court “abused its discretion when it denied Defendant’s motion for a change of venue,” and that it “abused its discretion when it failed to sequester the jury for the duration of the trial, or in the least, admonish them to avoid all media, which resulted in jury exposure to prejudicial publicity regarding the trial during the proceedings, as well as jury intimidation and potential fear of retribution among jurors.”
A member of the jury was found to have been part of the Black Lives Matter movement after the trial. He did not disclose his affiliation with the group before jury selection. An alternate juror admitted that she was afraid that a violent mob would show up at her house if she did not vote to convict Chauvin. That juror did not end up having a vote.
The state was unmoved by Nelson’s claims.
“There is no reason to believe that any part of this State was less impacted by pretrial publicity,” its memo said. “Similarly, regardless of when this case was tried, it was always going to attract enormous attention. Under these circumstances, the law recognizes that changing venue or continuing the trial would not have had meaningfully lessened jurors’ exposure to pretrial publicity.”
Chauvin is scheduled to be sentenced on June 25.
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