Chauvin trial begins Monday with opening statements, evidence
The trial is set to be live-streamed before a global audience
By Paul Walsh, Chao Xiong and Rochelle Olson
MINNEAPOLIS — Attorneys on both sides of the Derek Chauvin murder trial on Monday will begin making their case before jurors who will decide whether the fired Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd ten months ago.
Opening statements from defense attorney Eric Nelson and the prosecution are scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. before a global livestream audience in downtown Minneapolis in the heavily guarded Hennepin County Government Center.
Fifteen jurors were chosen over 11 days earlier in the month, a process refereed by District Judge Peter Cahill that proved challenging in the midst of outside publicity such as a bystander's video of Floyd's arrest on May 25 that was watched at least in part many millions of times on social media and in news reports.
Then came the announcement by city leaders during jury selection that they had agreed to settle a lawsuit with the Floyd family for $27 million. Several jury candidates said the payout made it difficult for them to grant Chauvin his constitutional right to be presumed innocent.
The final juror chosen will be dismissed before Monday's proceedings begin, leaving 14 to hear all the witnesses and evidence presented. The COVID-19 pandemic's need for physical spacing in the courtroom didn't allow for additional alternates.
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Opening statements, as defined by state court rules, are just that: statements that "only state the facts proposed to be proven."
After up to four weeks of evidence and closing arguments — when attorneys can use their best persuasive skills based solely on what was presented at trial — two more jurors will be excused and the remaining 12 will go into sequestration until reaching unanimous verdicts on each count.
The 45-year-old Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter in connection with Floyd's death, which not only ignited sometimes violent protests and rioting in Minneapolis, St. Paul and elsewhere, but reignited the nation's debate over policing and race relations.
The 15 jurors are diverse beyond the population they were chosen from and cover many decades in age.
Six of the jurors are people of color and nine are white. Nine are women, and six are men. Chauvin is white. Floyd was Black.
The jurors are: a multirace woman in her 20s, a multirace woman in her 40s, two Black men in their 30s, a Black man in his 40s, a Black woman in her 60s, four white women in their 50s, a white woman in her 40s, a white man in his 30s, two white men in their 20s, and a white woman in her 20s.
Three other fired Minneapolis police officers, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao, are expected to stand trial together in August on charges of aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter.
(c)2021 the Star Tribune (Minneapolis)