Minneapolis, MN – Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin opted not to testify in his own defense before his attorney rested the defense’s case on Thursday morning.
Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill began the April 15 proceedings with an exchange between Chauvin and his attorney, Eric Nelson, during which the attorney asked his client whether he wanted to testify in his own defense.
Chauvin opted to exercise his Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate himself and told Cahill he would not testify.
Then the judge questioned the defendant directly on that decision and the former veteran police officer said he was certain of his decision.
It was the most the public had heard Chauvin say since his legal nightmare began with Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020.
Nelson rested the defense’s case as soon as the trial resumed.
The judge told the jury on Monday before the defense called its first witness that he had hoped to wrap up testimony before the weekend.
Cahill warned the jurors that they should pack a bag before coming to court on April 19 because they would begin deliberations as soon as both sides finished their closing statements.
The judge warned all of the jurors during jury selection that they would be sequestered for the duration of their deliberations.
He gave the jury Friday off and told them that closing statements would begin first thing Monday morning.
Chauvin is facing charges of second-degree and third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in the death of Floyd.
The state filed a notice on Wednesday night of its intention to call three medical witnesses back to the stand to rebut the defense’s case.
One of the defense experts they wanted to rebut was a forensic pathologist who had been excused the prior day and was already on an airplane home.
While the judge said he would allow most of the testimony, he warned prosecutors that they would face a “mistrial” if they introduced new evidence to the jury.
The mainstream media has portrayed the prosecution’s case as a slam dunk since Day One, but many legal experts have said the defense may have raised ample reasonable doubt.
Most legal analysts have opined that it will be very difficult for the prosecution to get a guilty verdict on all three counts, according to Forbes.
“Remember the defense doesn’t have to prove its case, it only has to prove reasonable doubt,” University of Minnesota Law Professor David Schultz explained after the prosecution rested its case April 9.
“I would be surprised on all three counts if you got three unanimous verdicts of acquittal, but ask me in a week after the defense is done and I may have a different answer,” Schultz added.
Minnesota defense attorney Mike Brandt said he thought Nelson had done a good job poking holes in the prosecution by pointing out the contradictions in witnesses’ testimony and focusing on Floyd’s heath issues and drug use.
The defense also scored by showing crime scene investigators had done a poor job in the case, including having missed half-chewed narcotic pills smashed all over the back seat of the police SUV that Floyd had been in.
Nelson also undermined the credibility of the prosecution’s first paid witness, a Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) sergeant who was paid more than $10,000 to testify about use of force, The New York Times reported.
The LAPD sergeant testified that Chauvin used excessive force on Floyd, but the defense attorney pointed out in his cross-examination that the state’s expert hadn’t ever been used as a qualified expert outside of Los Angeles.
The expert testified that he knew nothing about Minneapolis Police Department policy or its application prior to receiving a retainer to testify for the state.
However, none of that may make a difference for Chauvin.
“The jurors also know that the city and much of the nation will explode if there is a ‘not guilty’ verdict, and that they will be doxxed and their lives ruined,” internationally-recognized self-defense legal expert Andrew Branca wrote in Legal Insurrection.