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What To Expect From Opening Statements In The Derek Chauvin Trial

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Monday, the trial of Derek Chauvin will begin with jury instructions, opening statements and testimony.

Most of the jurors said going into the trial they had negative impressions of Chauvin, impressions they will set aside during the trial. But that raises the question what will the defense and prosecution strategies be.

The defense in the Chauvin trial is expected to lean heavily on their expert medical witness, who is expected to testify that George Floyd's death was not a murder -- that he died because of pre-existing health conditions and drugs in his system.

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That argument is actually supported in part by the medical examiner's report that says Floyd had "potentially fatal levels" of fentanyl in his body.

The case is tricky for both the prosecution and defense. There is, of course, the viral video of Floyd's last minutes, with his repeated calls that he couldn't breathe and bystanders warning police Floyd could die.

Joe Tamburino is a criminal defense attorney not affiliated with the case. He says in opening statements the defense will have to stress their expert's view.

"I think what he is going to hit hard on opening statements is that this case is about cause of death. The cause of death versus use of force," Tamburino said. "That's the running battle in this case and I think that's what he is going to hit hard, which is this is all about cause of death being a natural cause or a cause because of drug use."

The prosecution is expected to emphasize testimony of their medical expert, who says asphyxiation was a significant factor in the death. And they will also have that video that went viral within hours of Floyd's death. It's a video which almost all of the jurors said they have not seen in its entirety.

You can watch WCCO Sunday Morning with Esme Murphy and Mike Augustyniak every Sunday at 6 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

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