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Derek Chauvin Trial, April 19 Live Updates: Derek Chauvin's Fate Is Now In Jury's Hands

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- After 14 days of testimony, with 44 witnesses taking the stand, the attorneys in the Derek Chauvin trial will give their closing arguments Monday in the biggest criminal case in Minnesota history. After that, the case will be handed to the jury, which will be sequestered until they come to a decision. Here are live updates of the proceedings Monday morning.


Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell addressed the jury saying that they need to consider the "46th witness" (there were 45 during the testimony phase), identifying that witness as "common sense."

Why is it necessary to continue, Blackwell argued, applying deadly restraint to a man who is defenseless, who is handcuffed, who is not resisting, who is not breathing, who doesn't have a pulse?

"Verdict is a Latin word that means truth," Blackwell said. "You're not going to reach a 'story' when all is said and done."

Blackwell told the jury that, contrary to Eric Nelson's argument, Hennepin County Medical Examiner Dr. Andrew Baker did not say that homicide is a medical term, saying what Baker said was that homicide "means killed at the hands of another." Blackwell said that the defense mischaracterized what Baker reported about the cause of death, saying Nelson said Floyd's death was an "unexpected result." Blackwell argued he was putting words in Baker's mouth, and that Baker was very clear that Floyd's cause of death was "cardiopulmonary arrest complicating subdual restraint."

"We're only required to show you that Mr. Chauvin's conduct was a substantial cause, a substantial factor in Mr. Floyd's death," Blackwell said.

Blackwell also told the jury that, as to the idea that Chauvin's actions were influenced by the group of bystanders, he told the jury they've had the chance now to meet them.

"What was there to be afraid of?" he asked, before running through the bystanders, including high school students, a second grader, a first responder, Donald Williams, Charles McMillian. "They don't deserve to be called unruly. ... If those bystanders did not respect this badge, they could very easily have taken the law into their own hands and simply removed Mr. Chauvin ... but none of them did that, because they respect this badge, even if it tore them up inside."

Blackwell also brought up the issue of whether carbon monoxide from the nearby squad vehicle could have been a contributing factor in his death, saying the defense failed to bring forward a witness to say the vehicle was running when Floyd was being subdued nearby. And even if it was, "Why isn't that an unreasonable use of force?

"The use of unreasonable force is an assault," Blackwell said. "We need only to show he intended to do what he did, which was to put the knee on the neck, the knee on the back, and on the shoulder, and it wasn't an accident."

Blackwell ends his rebuttal by countering the witness testimony that Floyd died because his heart was too big.

"You were told, for example, that Mr. Floyd died because his heart was too big," Blackwell said. "The truth of the matter is that the reason George Floyd is dead is because Mr. Chauvin's heart was too small."

2:45 P.M.: DEFENSE CONCLUDES CLOSING ARGUMENTS (14 Minutes Following Lunch Break)

Following an impromptu lunch break called by Judge Peter Cahill in the middle of defense attorney Eric Nelson's closing arguments, Nelson continued Monday afternoon by continuing on the topic of whether controlled substances played a role in Floyd's death, framing it as a multi-factoral event.

Nelson attacked the testimony of Dr. Martin Tobin (one of the state's medical witnesses) that Floyd died of brain hypoxia, arguing the timeline of Floyd's death is consistent with a sudden cardiac arrhythmia, and not consistent with the longer process of brain hypoxia.

Nelson also brought up the EMS response upon arrival.

"I am not suggesting that ambulance paramedics did anything wrong but it raises the prospect of that continued delay in resuscitation," he said.

"The state has failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt and therefore Mr. Chauvin should be found not guilty of all counts," Nelson concluded.

11:35 A.M.: DEFENSE BEGINS CLOSING ARGUMENTS (2 Hours, 33 Minutes Up To Lunch Break)

As the defense began presenting closing arguments, defendant Derek Chauvin removed his mask in court. He took off his mask last week while invoking his Fifth Amendment right to not testify in his own defense, but the jury was not present in that moment. He did remove his mask briefly most of the time during jury selection when they introduced themselves, but otherwise this is the first significant chance for the jury to get a look at Chauvin's face.

Defense attorney Eric Nelson began his closing arguments by asking for forgiveness if he gets long-winded in his presentation, saying "I only get one bite at the apple," adding the prosecution will get a chance to rebut after his arguments. It was an apology he reiterated multiple times during the more than two hours' worth of arguments he presented Monday morning and afternoon.

"The highest standard is proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Essentially, the state has to convince you that the evidence in this case removes any reasonable doubt," Nelson said. He argued the state failed to meet the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

"A criminal case is kind of like baking chocolate-chip cookies. If you have all of the ingredients, you can make chocolate-chip cookies. But if you're missing any one single ingredient, you can't make chocolate-chip cookies," Nelson said.

Nelson said he would focus on two specific elements -- whether the use-of-force Chauvin used was authorized, and what the cause of Floyd's death was.

Nelson encouraged jurors to consider more than just the nine minutes and 29 seconds that the prosecution has told them to focus on, and to consider the "totality of the circumstances" that a reasonable officer would consider in this case.

Nelson described the situation outside Cup Foods last May as "dynamic" and "fluid" as he launched into a minute-by-minute, even second-by-second examination of what happened leading up to the point Chauvin knelt on Floyd.

Nelson asked jurors to ask themselves how a reasonable officer would approach the situation as Chauvin did when he arrived on the scene. He noted that Lane and Kueng, two new officers, were struggling with a person who appeared to be under the influence and actively resisting arrest.

"Part of what a reasonable officer has to do is to consider whether a subject's lack of compliance is a deliberate attempt to resist or an inability to comply," Nelson said. "A reasonable police officer understands the intensity of the struggle. ... Floyd was able to overcome the efforts of three officers."

Nelson says that a reasonable officer would rely on their training.

"It was reasonable for officers to put Mr. Floyd into the squad car ... every single expert agrees. Up until this point, nothing is contrary to policy," Nelson said. "This is the policy, that non-deadly force can be physically used to manage a person."

Nelson continued his argument that the prosecution has disregarded everything that happened prior to the nine minutes, 29 seconds they've stressed during the trial -- the 16 minutes, 59 seconds leading up to it.

While showing bodycam footage, Nelson argued the officers were discussing amongst themselves throughout, considering restraint options, considering whether to escalate their hold.

"It is not uncommon for suspects to feign or to pretend to have a medical emergency in order to avoid getting arrested. Unfortunately, that is the reality," Nelson said. "Dr. Tobin described how even medical doctors sometimes have problems assessing the legitimacy of a patient's needs."

Nelson noted the phrase "If they're talking, it means they're breathing" said amongst police officers. He showed several video clips where officers say it while restraining Floyd.

Nelson also returned to the concept of "excited delirium," saying that officers brought up the theory to Chauvin, who responded that's why EMS was responding to the scene.

He about talked to the jury about the difference between perspective and perception. Discussing the bystander witnesses, he spoke of of Darnella Frazier, who recorded the viral video, saying she "didn't even know two other officers were there." He brought up off-duty firefighter Genevieve Hansen, who testified she thought fluid Nelson says came from the squad car was urine coming from Floyd.

Nelson said, "We don't look at this incident from the perspective of a bystander. We look at it from the perspective of a reasonable police officer," who knows more about what's happening than bystanders do. He argued that a reasonable police officer will hear the frustration of the bystanders growing and take that into consideration as well.

"There's always more to the story," Nelson said. "The totality of the circumstances that were known to a reasonable police officer in the precise moment that force was used demonstrates that this was an authorized use of force, as unattractive as it may be. And this is reasonable doubt."

Nelson said that at no point did Chauvin swear at Floyd or call him names. The evidence showed that Chauvin believed he was following his training, he added.

"These are officers doing their job in a highly stressful situation," Nelson said, "and it's tragic. It's tragic."

After about two hours of speaking, Nelson went into the issue of Floyd's cause of death.

"The state neglected to read one of the most important sentences," Nelson said while calling up a graphic showing the following statement, with emphasis on the final part:

"The Defendant is criminally liable for all the consequences of his actions that occur in the ordinary and natural course of events, including those consequences brought about by one or more intervening causes, if such intervening causes were the natural result of the Defendant's acts."

Nelson told the jury they must be convinced that Chauvin's actions caused Floyd's death, and that his heart condition, his history of hypertension, and the presence of other substances in his system all played no role in his death. He added that the testimony of many of the state's expert witnesses when it came to the cause of death "fly in the face" of reason when held against the findings of Dr. Andrew Baker, the person who actually performed Floyd's autopsy: "It's astounding."

Nelson said Baker's findings indicated no injuries to the neck or spinal column.

"You have to focus on the consequence of the defendant's acts," he said. "Put the evidence in its proper context."

Nelson said, while not meaning to suggest that Floyd's was "an overdose death," the toxicology report needed to be considered by the jury as well.

"The history of Mr. Floyd's use of controlled substances, it's significant," Nelson said.

At 2:10 p.m., Judge Cahill abruptly interrupted Nelson's closing arguments after they had been going for about two and a half hours, calling for a 30-minute lunch break.


Prosecutor Steve Schleicher delivered closing arguments in the trial of Chauvin Monday morning, beginning by telling jurors who George Floyd was before his name became the center of a global movement for justice.

"On May 25, 2020, George Floyd died face down on the pavement, right on 38th and Chicago in Minneapolis. Nine minutes and 29 seconds, nine minutes and 29 seconds. During this time George Floyd struggled, desperate to breathe," Schleicher said. "So desperate to breathe, he pushed with his face -- with his face! -- to lift himself, to open his chest, to give his lungs room to breathe."

Schleicher said that Floyd referred to Chauvin as "Mr. Officer" in asking for help. He drew a distinction between policing and Chauvin's actions last May.

"Our expectation is that the police are going to help ... To be clear, this case is called the State of Minnesota vs. Derek Chauvin, not the State of Minnesota vs. police," he said. "Policing in a noble profession."

Schleicher said that he was not representing an anti-police prosecution but a pro-police prosecution, saying that Chauvin did not follow the rules. Floyd's death was set into motion by a counterfeit $20 bill, but Schleicher said that he died as the result of something worth even less -- Chauvin's ego, his pride.

Schleicher said that while Chauvin was on top of Floyd, "he had to know" what was happening "right beneath him ... (Floyd) was completely limp."

He also reminded the jury that "this is not 'the trial of George Floyd.' ... He is not on trial; he didn't get a trial when he was alive."

When Floyd was first approached by Officer Thomas Lane, Schleicher argued, he was confronted with a firearm. He asked the jury to consider Floyd's facial expression.

"How does Mr. Floyd look in this photo? Terrified," he said. "They ask him to sit down, he sits down. That's compliance." Schleicher said he gave them his name and spelled it; that too was compliance.

Schleicher said that Floyd was attempting to explain his claustrophobia and anxiety as officers tried to put him in the back of the squad car. He said Floyd told them he was working up to get mentally prepared to go into the squad.

"You saw the look on Floyd's face when he glanced into that car. He looked like he saw a monster," Schleicher said. "What did George Floyd say when they pulled him out of the car? 'Thank you, thank you.' It could've been over there."

Schleicher said that when Floyd was first taken out of the car, he was in the recovery position. But then officers put him in the prone position, which is known to carry the risk of positional asphyxia.

Addressing the concept of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, Schleicher told jurors to "use your common sense. Believe your eyes. What you saw happen happened."

Schleicher told the jury they're not required to believe witness testimony that "flies in the face of common sense. ... You're not required to believe that at that moment he died of heart disease, or a drug overdose. That's nonsense. Believe your eyes."

He referred back to the testimony of Dr. Martin Tobin. He said pulmonology proves that Floyd's heart failed because of Chauvin's use of force, depriving his heart of oxygen. He told the jury Tobin "literally wrote the book on the subject."

"It wasn't cardiac arrest, it wasn't a drug overdose," Schleicher said. "It was the low level of oxygen, it was the asphyxia that caused his death."

Schleicher used some of his time during closing arguments to go over, point-by-point, the prosecution's belief that Chauvin deserves guilty verdicts in all three charges he faces in Floyd's death. He went over the legal definitions of "assault," "intention" and "bodily harm" in an effort to point out that prosecution does not need to show that Chauvin intended to kill Floyd, only that they need to show that he assaulted Floyd on purpose.

Furthermore, Schleicher said while presenting bodycam clips of Floyd's fatal arrest, the state argued that Chauvin's actions and statements made during the more than nine minutes holding Floyd down with his knee indicate indifference from Chauvin.

"He knew better, he didn't do better," Schleicher said. "He had the knowledge, he had the tools, he just ignored (them)."

Schleicher highlighted how many police officers took the stand and said that Chauvin's use-of-force was unreasonable and "totally unnecessary."

"You look at it from the perspective of a reasonable officer. And the evidence in this case has shown, over and over, the defendant is not that officer," he said.

After approximately one hour and 42 minutes of speaking, Schleicher closed the prosecution's closing arguments saying, "There's no excuse."

9 A.M.: JURY INSTRUCTION (21 Minutes)

Judge Peter Cahill instructed the jury on the law. The jury will be sequestered following closing arguments.

Testimony in the trial ended on Thursday, giving the jury a long weekend to prepare for sequestration.


[NOTE: Here is the original story as it appeared on prior to the closing arguments.]

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- After 14 days of testimony, with 44 witnesses taking the stand, the attorneys in the Derek Chauvin trial will give their closing arguments Monday in the biggest criminal case in Minnesota history. After that, the case will be handed to the jury, which will be sequestered until they come to a decision.

For the state, prosecutors Steve Schleicher and Jerry Blackwell will attempt to show that Chauvin's kneeling on Floyd's neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds led to Floyd's death. They will argue that Chauvin should be convicted on all three of the counts he is facing: second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter.

In opening statements, the prosecutors told the jury to believe their eyes when watching the widely-seen bystander video of Floyd's arrest, which showed Chauvin, who is white, pinning down Floyd, who was Black, as he was lying prone, in handcuffs and pleading for air.

RELATED: Tensions High In Twin Cities Amid Wright Protests, Upcoming Chauvin Trial Verdict

In Chauvin's defense, attorney Eric Nelson will attempt to cast doubt that Chauvin's actions led to Floyd's death, highlighting that Floyd swallowed pills containing fentanyl and methamphetamine as officers tried to arrest him on May 25 outside of Cup Foods. Nelson is expected to argue that the drugs, combined with his underlying heart issues, led to his sudden death while he was being restrained outside the convenience store, where he had allegedly tried to pass a fake $20 bill.

Closing arguments are slated to begin at 9 a.m., with Schleicher making the case for the prosecution. That'll be followed by the defense's statements. Each presentation is expected to last about an hour, although there are no set time limits. After the the defense's presentation, the state will give a rebuttal, which will be delivered by Blackwell.

WCCO-TV is streaming gavel-to-gavel coverage of the trial on CBSN Minnesota. Jason DeRusha will lead the coverage while longtime Twin Cities defense attorney Joe Tamburino, who is not affiliated with the case, will give legal analysis.

RELATED: Watch Gavel-To-Gavel Coverage Of The Derek Chauvin Trial

After closing arguments, Judge Peter Cahill will give instructions to the jury before they are sequestered. He will also release two jurors from the case, as they are serving as alternates. In total, 12 jurors will decide whether or not Chauvin is guilty of the charges he faces. If Cahill follows the common practice of dismissing the last two jurors selected, the jury will be made up of six white and six Black/multi-racial jurors.

The jury's decision must be unanimous, either convicting or acquitting Chauvin on each count. Additionally, if the jury decides to convict, they must also consider enhancing the charges, as children were among the witnesses to Floyd's death. Per the state's sentencing guidelines, Chauvin faces 12 and-a-half years in prison for each murder count. However, the maximum possible penalty for those charges is higher.

RELATED: Drive-By Shooter Targets National Guard Humvee In Minneapolis, Injuring 2 Guardsmen

Tamburino, WCCO-TV's legal expert, expects the jury to deliberate for two days before coming to a decision. "Usually when they are sequestered, they come back [with a decision] faster," he said.

The jury will deliver their verdicts in the courthouse in downtown Minneapolis, which is heavily fortified with razor wire and concrete barriers. Hundreds of Minnesota National Guard troops are stationed in the city as part of Operation Safety Net, the state's plan to quell any unrest that should follow. Already, the Twin Cities are on edge after the police shooting of Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, where protesters have gathered outside the city's police station each night for more than a week.

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