MINNEAPOLIS—A Hennepin County judge reinstated a charge of third-degree murder against the former police officer accused of killing George Floyd, resolving an issue that threatened to put the case on hold.
A legal battle over the charge has been playing out this week in the case against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is facing charges of second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter over Mr. Floyd’s death last May.
The prosecution had been seeking a delay in the case while the matter of a third-degree charge played out at the state Supreme Court level. On Wednesday, the Minnesota Supreme Court declined to hear a defense appeal over the charge, allowing District Court Judge Peter Cahill to hear arguments on the matter Thursday.
After hearing from both sides, Judge Cahill quickly ruled that he was reinstating the charge, accepting a state Court of Appeals ruling that it did apply in the Chauvin case.
Richard Frase, a professor at the University of Minnesota Law School, said the prosecution likely wanted to reinstate the third-degree murder charge in case the jury doesn’t think it met the burden of proof for second-degree murder and could still convict on something more substantial than manslaughter. The defense, on the other hand, would prefer to have the jury chose between second degree murder and the less-serious manslaughter, he said.
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