MINNEAPOLIS – The final case of the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has been slated for Monday after telling the court that he would not testify in his own defense
“I will be invoking my fifth amendment privilege today,” said Chauvin on Thursday.
Chauvin, who actively took notes throughout the process and participated in sidebars with his attorneys, smiled at one point when senior defense attorney Eric Nelson mentioned that they had walked back and forth a lot on the testimony issue.
He gave short, direct answers to every question from Nelson and Judge Peter Cahill. Chauvin is clean-shaven and looks different from the viral video on May 25, 2020.
The defense closed her case Thursday after calling seven witnesses for two days. A doctor with 46 years of experience in breathing physiology briefly returned to the stand on Thursday to refute the testimony of a medical expert on the defense.
Cahill later told jury that they will return Monday to hear the final arguments and will then be confiscated for deliberation. No court cases are planned for Friday.
“If I were you, I would plan long (considerations) and hope short,” said Cahill.
Where is the process: The defense argues that Floyd’s hypertensive heart disease and the use of meth and fentanyl along with fighting with the police caused him to suffer from cardiac stress and eventually to die. On Tuesday, the defense called on a former Hennepin County police officer and retired medic, both of whom testified about Floyd’s drug-related arrest in Minneapolis in 2019.
Prosecutors allege Floyd died on Chauvin’s knee in the back of his neck for more than nine minutes. Within eleven days, prosecutors called 38 witnesses to the booth and played dozens of body cam videos of onlookers, monitors and police officers.
Chauvin is charged with second degree murder, third degree murder, and second degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death in police custody on May 25, 2020.
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- The court is expected to resume at 9:00 a.m. (CDT) on Monday to finalize the arguments.
- After the defense dropped their case, NAACP national president Derrick Johnson issued a statement: “What we all saw throughout the trial confirmed what we saw in the video. Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd. As us On Monday we turn to the final arguments, the nation is waiting for justice. “
- Dr. David Fowler, a medical expert on the defense, said Wednesday the manner of George Floyd’s death was “indefinite” in contrast to various prosecutor’s witnesses calling it a murder. Fowler said he believes Floyd had a “sudden arrhythmia” due to his underlying heart problem while he was being held back and suppressed by police.
- Morries Hall, a man who was in an SUV with George Floyd before the police fight, will not testify in Chauvin’s trial, Judge Peter Cahill ruled Wednesday.
- Previously, Cahill had denied a petition for acquittal against Chauvin, which had been submitted verbally by Eric Nelson, the principal defense attorney. Such defense acquittal requests are usually made at the end of state proceedings, are largely pro forma steps in criminal proceedings, and are seldom or never approved by the courts.
- Also on Wednesday, Kim Potter, the former Minnesota police officer who shot and killed Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old black man while in a traffic obstruction, was charged with second degree manslaughter. The shooting sparked racial tension in Brooklyn Center, just a few miles from where Floyd died last May.
- The defense called their first six witnesses to the booth Tuesday after prosecutors closed their case. The last witness of the day, defense expert Barry Brodd, told jurors that Chauvin was “justified” in his use of force – the first witness to suggest the reluctance to use Floyd was acceptable.
Dr. Martin Tobin refutes the statement of defense experts: “It’s just wrong.”
Dr. Martin Tobin, the state’s refuting witness, returned to the booth Thursday to give testimony that undermined the credibility of the defense’s key medical expert who testified the day before. Dr. David Fowler was the last witness called by the defense.
Tobin testified about George Floyd’s carboxyhemoglobin levels, that is, the levels of hemoglobin taken over by carbon monoxide poisoning.
Of Fowler’s statement that carbon monoxide levels could be above 10%, Tobin said, “It’s just wrong.”
“The maximum amount of carbon monoxide would be 2%,” Tobin testified, adding that it would be “in the normal range.”
Tobin said the readings from Floyd’s arterial gas blood when measured in Hennepin County were 98% oxygenated. That leaves 2% for carbon monoxide.
In response to Fowler’s claim that he could not find any studies on the hypopharynx, Tobin said, “There are at least a dozen, maybe 20 studies showing the relationship between a reduction in lung size and a reduction in the size of the hypopharynx, all studies show that. “
There aren’t any studies of pressure on the throat narrowing the hypopharynx, Tobin said, because that’s not a surprise.
“Common sense you know this is going to happen,” said Tobin. “As soon as you apply pressure here, you can feel your upper airways narrow.”
George Floyd’s cousin says the family didn’t think Chauvin would testify
George Floyd’s cousin Arthur Reed is seated in the Floyd family seat in the courtroom on Thursday
When asked about Chauvin’s decision not to testify, Reed said he felt the prosecution “knocked him down second after second” when asked why he was kneeling on Floyd for so long.
“We didn’t think they’d even put it on,” he said.
He added, “We are just about ready to get this over with and make sure he gets the justice he deserves. We believe the state has brought an excellent case. “
Defense attorneys threaten to initiate legal proceedings during the debate over newly discovered evidence
Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell said Thursday the state had blood gas evidence from Hennepin County presented by Dr. Andrew Baker were rediscovered in what is likely the testimony of Dr. David Richard Fowler would refute about possible carbon monoxide poisoning.
Fowler said exposure to vehicle emissions, which may have resulted in carbon monoxide poisoning, was a major contributor to Floyd’s death, a point no other expert has addressed.
Blackwell said the state initially subpoenaed all the records, but the carbon monoxide levels were not included because Baker and the ambulance doctors had not seen how this would affect the case. He said Baker came back after Fowler’s testimony, believing Floyd’s test results might exist.
Nelson said he would opt for a mistrial when the carbon monoxide test results were made available to the jury. Because, he said, prosecutors were well informed that it was part of Fowler’s testimony.
“This is not a proper rebuttal. It has already been attested,” argued Nelson.
Judge Peter Cahill said he would go to Dr. Martin Tobin, a doctor who researches breathing and testified for the state last week, won’t allow him to testify to the lab results. Cahill said Fowler’s report sufficiently informed the state that the levels of carbon monoxide in Floyd’s blood “may have been the cause of death.”
“If he even gives (Tobin) evidence of test results that the jury has not heard of, it will simply be a mistrial,” said Cahill.
Regarding the hypoxia, Fowler testified that Floyd had an anoxic seizure from a cardiac event, and this was the first time the state had heard of it. The prosecution wants Tobin to refute this testimony.
Cahill decided that Tobin could testify about the size or weight of Floyd’s heart. Hypoxic seizure evidence will not be allowed, Cahill said, but environmental factors of carbon monoxide will be allowed.
Defense forensic pathologist: Floyd had “sudden arrhythmia”
Dr. David Richard Fowler, a retired forensic pathologist and former head of the Maryland doctor’s office for 17 years, told jurors on Wednesday that George Floyd’s death was more due to his existing health problems than to suffocation or a lack of oxygen.
Fowler said the plaque accumulated in Floyd’s arteries and his hypertensive heart disease were the direct cause of death in his opinion, noting that Floyd had a “sudden arrhythmia” due to those heart problems while he was being restrained and suppressed by the police.
Fowler noted that key conditions would include: Floyd’s fentanyl and methamphetamine intake, what other experts have termed “accidental” abnormal cell growth in his pelvic area, and exposure to vehicle exhaust, which may have resulted in carbon monoxide poisoning. This last condition of participation has not yet been addressed by any expert.
Exercise increases the body’s need for oxygen, while methamphetamine increases the heart rate and narrows the arteries enough to slow blood flow, Fowler said. Methamphetamine also increases the risk of arrhythmias, he said.
Fowler admitted during cross-examination by prosecutor Jerry Blackwell that while Floyd was officially pronounced dead in the hospital, he was dead “long, long before”. He agreed that Floyd should have received immediate medical attention when he went into cardiac arrest.
Fowler said he was “critical” of officials who fail to provide medical assistance.
“Prompt medical attention to someone who has suffered cardiac arrest can reverse this process,” said Fowler.
Fowler is currently facing a federal lawsuit. As chief medical officer in Maryland, Fowler ruled the death of Anton Black, a 19-year-old black man who was in a mental crisis and was killed by police in 2018, according to The Baltimore Sun. No one was charged, and Black’s family filed the lawsuit in December.