Chauvin may get longer jail term for ‘particular cruelty’ in George Floyd murder, says judge

The judge agreed with four out of five allegations of aggravating factors

Graig Graziosi
Wednesday 12 May 2021 17:46 BST
Key moments from the Derek Chauvin murder trial
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A Minnesota judge ruled that there were aggravating factors involved in the death of George Floyd.

The ruling on Wedneday allows for a harsher sentence for former Minneapolis police office Derek Chauvin, who was found guilty of murdering Mr Floyd.

Chauvin is scheduled to be sentence on 25 June. He has waived his right to have a jury determine his sentence, which means Judge Peter Cahill – who presided over the trial – will set the punishment.

Prosecutors pushing for Chauvin to receive a harsher sentence presented five aggravating factors they believe justified a longer punishment.

Mr Cahill agreed with the prosecutors on four of the five points.

The judge ruled that Chauvin "abused a position of trust and authority," that he "treated George Floyd with particular cruelty," that children were present during the crime, and that the crime was committed "as a group with the active participation of at least three."

In this case, the addition three individuals were other police officers, who will face trial for aiding and abetting murder this August.

Mr Cahill disagreed with prosecutor's fifth point, which was that Mr Floyd was a "particularly vulnerable victim."

Chauvin and his defense team will almost certainly appeal the guilty verdict.

Supporters of the former police officer called for an appeal after discovering that one of the jurors, Brandon Mitchell, wore a t-shirt with an image of Martin Luther King Jr and the phrase "Get Your Knee Off Our Necks" to a march last August.

The supporters allege that Mr Mitchell - who is Black - having an opinion about police violence against Black men means he could not possibly adjudicate without bias.

Mr Mithcell has defended his appearance at the rally, pointing out it was a march commemorating the 57th anniversary of Mr King's "I Have a Dream" speech and that it was not a George Floyd rally.

"The opportunity to go to D.C., the opportunity to be around thousands and thousands of Black people, I just thought it was a good opportunity to be a part of something," he told theMinneapolis Star Tribune.

At the end of the trial, Eric Nelson – Chauvin's defense attorney – complained that the jury would not have been able to avoid having their opinions on the case colored by media coverage and news reports about the trial.

Mr Cahill did not grant Mr Nelson a mistrial on those grounds, but suggested that "abhorrent" comments made by Congresswoman Maxine Waters could provide the defense with ammunition in future appeals.

"I'll give it to you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned," Mr Cahill said.

Ms Waters made the comments prior to the ruling, suggesting protesters intensify their efforts in the event of a not guilty verdict for Chauvin.

"Well, we've got to stay on the street," Ms Waters said. "And we've got to get more active. We've got to get more confrontational. We've got to make sure that they know that we mean business."

Despite the judge's comments, it is unlikely that Ms Waters' comments would be enough to justify overturning a guilty verdict.

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