Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill will likely begin the trial by ruling on a motion filed by the District Attorney's Office to reinstate the third-degree murder charge. That's because an appeals court ruled last week that Cahill erroneously dismissed the charge and asked the judge to reinstate it.
State law states that the first-degree murder charge pertains to an incident in which one person causes the death of another in the violence of the moment. The second-degree murder charge applies when a person intentionally but without premeditation causes the death of another.
The third-degree murder charge, whose inclusion in this trial may be crucial, applies to a situation in which the killing is not intentional but results from the commission of an act that is eminently dangerous to others and demonstrates a depraved mind.
Hundreds of people demanding justice for George Floyd and others killed by police as the trial of Derek Chauvin begins in Minneapolis. pic.twitter.com/lnS5B3bbrR
Chauvin, who served with the Minneapolis Police Department for 19 years, faces one count of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder. His trial is the first in Minnesota in which a white police officer is charged with the death of a black citizen.
On May 25, 2020, Chauvin and two police officers stopped Floyd on a Minnesota street. For more than 8 minutes in duration, he pressed his knee to Floyd's neck, who repeatedly cried out that he was choking. This behavior was recorded by witnesses and broadcast on social media.
The County Attorney's Office alleges that Chauvin did not intend to kill Floyd but caused his death by inflicting criminal punishment by kneeling on the detainee's neck.
The defense alleges that Floyd "most likely" died from a drug overdose and that Chauvin used authorized police maneuvers to control a man who resisted arrest and acted in an "erratic" manner. Using the findings of the Hennepin County coroner's office, his attorneys also argue that Floyd died from cardiopulmonary failure and had traces of fentanyl and methamphetamines in his body.
So far, the list of potential witnesses includes more than 370 people but it is unclear how many of them will be called to testify.