Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, accused of the murder of George Floyd on May 25, has been charged with second-degree murder. The previous charges were third-degree murder and manslaughter.
Keith Ellison, the former congressman and current Attorney General of Minnesota, is responsible for adjusting the charge. While his motivations are unknown, we can deduce several possible reasons for the change. CDMedia consulted with our legal counsel (LC) in assessing Ellison's move.
CDM: By upping Chauvin's charge to 2nd degree murder, what happens?
LC: I would say it makes a trial less likely. It could also be a way to leverage a plea to the less serious charge, manslaughter. It plays well in the public court of opinion, as it's a more serious charge. Minnesota statute 609.19, murder in the second degree, has unintentional language, a statutory maximum of 40 years. It's primarily a drive-by-shooting statute. Whereas 609.195, murder in the third degree, relates to a depraved mind without regard for human life. Wantonness and recklessness concepts are used to govern intent and mental state.
CDM: The Minneapolis Star Tribune's latest update is that they might not pursue manslaughter as a secondary charge.
LC: That's kind of smart. Go for it. It's hard to get to first degree, premeditated. It actually doesn't require that much--a plan formed between the confrontation in the suspect's vehicle and Chauvin's return to his vehicle for his gun is enough, federally speaking--but that's tough to prove. That's how he would get life. A federal conviction of murder one carries a mandatory life sentence. It looks like under Subdivision 1., the second degree statute also includes intentional murder without premeditation. It's quite poorly drafted, in my opinion.
CDM: Any other complicating factors?
LC: The US attorney could steal Minnesota's thunder and charge Chauvin federally, with what I'm not entirely sure. Ellison doesn't want the feds jumping in, so that could be a reason for upping the stakes. It's pretty common: make an initial charge to get a warrant, then review proof more thoroughly to see if a harsher charge is supported.
CDM: Thank you, counsel.
Other opinions on the charge were volleyed online. On ABC, the opinion was that third-degree charges are only valid when malice is directed at multiple persons, not just one.
Minnesota attorney Jay Adkins told ABC News on Wednesday that the third-degree murder charges against Chauvin may have failed at trial.
"The third-degree murder charges...is invalid in this case because the officer's actions were directed only to Mr. Floyd not multiple people -- like firing in a crowded building," said Adkins, who cited a Minnesota Supreme Court case that reads "third-degree murder 'cannot occur where the defendant's actions were focused on a specific person.'"
"The importance of the new second degree charges against former officer Chauvin. If the elevated charges don't result in a conviction, the likely results would be a conviction to a form of manslaughter, not murder," Adkins said.--ABC News
On Twitter, everyone had a theory, as usual. Some were thoughtful...
Regarding Ms. Zeigler's tweet, when considering the motivations of AG Ellison, always remember that he was sworn into U.S. Congress by Nancy Pelosi on a Quran, the first, but not the last to do so. Squad members Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar copied his move in 2019.
Ellison is a not-insubstantial cog in the corrupt bureaucracy. Credibly accused of domestic abuse prior to the 2018 election, the DNC slow-rolled an investigation into the matter. Mass media were complicit. Ellison won a close race.
The three former officers present at the scene, Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao, were charged with aiding and abetting murder in the second degree.
The degree of their complicity varied.
According to arrest warrant documents, Chauvin pinned his knee onto the back of Floyd's neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds.
During that time, Lane asked Chauvin whether Floyd should get rolled onto his side, but Chauvin refused to move him, according to the warrant. Lane allegedly was holding Floyd's legs as Kueng allegedly was holding Floyd's back down as Chauvin kept his knee in place, according to the arrest warrant. Thoa was seen on the video with both of his hands in his pockets.--Ibid.
Further complicating matters, the county coroner's cause of death differs from that of the independent autopsy performed by Dr. Michael Baden and the Univ. of Michigan Medical School director of autopsy and forensic services, Dr. Allecia Wilson.
An independent autopsy determined Floyd's cause of death was by asphyxia "due to neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain." The county's medical examiner ruled that Floyd died because of a cardiopulmonary arrest.--Ibid.
Floyd's family requested the independent autopsy by Dr. Baden. If the name seems familiar, that's because he performed the autopsy for Jeffrey Epstein. In fact, his fingerprints are on most of the sketchy murder and suicide cases in recent and not-so-recent history, including JFK, MLK Jr., OJ Simpson, Phil Spector, Michael Brown, and Aaron Hernandez.
Baden is 85 years old.
CDMedia will update this developing story as necessary.
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