Attorneys for both the defense and the prosecution will give closing arguments Monday in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
Chauvin faces murder and manslaughter charges in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The trial, which saw 11 days of testimony over three weeks, is in the final phase as closing arguments and jury deliberations are set to begin on Monday.
Prosecutor Steve Schleicher will be giving the state’s closing argument, while Eric Nelson will deliver closing arguments for Chauvin’s defense.
Here’s what we know about the jury hearing those arguments, what it takes for a conviction and what Chauvin is facing as the trial nears its conclusion.
Who is on the jury?
There are 14 jurors who have listened to testimony during the trial. Only 12 of those will be reviewing the evidence and determining Chauvin’s verdicts. While the other two jurors will sit through the trial, they are alternate jurors and will not be participating during deliberations.
The jury consists of these nine women and five men:
- Chemist, a white man in his 20s
- A multiracial woman in her 20s (her occupation wasn’t brought up in juror questioning)
- Social worker, a white woman in her 20s
- Business auditor, a white man in his 30s
- Information technology manager, a Black man in his 30s
- Banking professional, a Black man in his 30s
- Management professional, a Black man in his 40s
- Company reorganization employee, a multiracial woman in her 40s
- Insurance company client advocate, a white woman in her 40s
- Former customer service rep., a white woman in her 50s
- Health care advocacy group executive, a white woman in her 50s
- Executive assistant, a white woman in her 50s
- Nurse, a white woman in her 50s
- Marketing retiree, a Black woman in her 60s
What will they be deciding?
The jury has listened to 38 witnesses from the prosecution and seven witnesses from the defense and will process that testimony to make a decision on three possible charges.
After each side gives its closing argument, Judge Peter Cahill will explain the charges to the jurors and explain what the verdicts would mean on those charges. He will also tell them what they can consider in deciding on a verdict.
The charges Chauvin face include:
- Second-degree unintentional murder – When a person kills another while committing a felony. It is not necessary to prove that the person intended to kill someone. In Minnesota, second-degree unintentional murder carries a maximum prison sentence of 40 years.
- Third-degree murder – An intentional act that is likely to lead to injury of a person. It is carried out without regard to human life. In Minnesota, someone convicted of third-degree murder faces a prison sentence of up to 25 years, and/or a fine of no more than $40,000.
- Second-degree manslaughter – An act involving “culpable negligence” where the person’s actions create a risk of death or “great bodily harm” to another. Second-degree manslaughter carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years, and/or a fine of no more than $20,000.
Chauvin is facing all three charges, and the jury must consider each charge separately and come up with a verdict for each charge.
Do all the jurors have to agree on a verdict, or can a majority of the jurors decided the verdict?
The verdicts must be unanimous. All the jurors must agree for a guilty verdict.
What happens if they can’t come to a unanimous decision?
If a unanimous verdict cannot be reached, Judge Cahill may declare a mistrial. If that happens, the prosecution will have to decide whether to retry Chauvin.
How long will it take to reach a verdict?
It can take hours, days or weeks. As Judge Cahill told the jurors last week, “If I were you, I would plan for long and hope for short.
“Basically, it’s up to the jury how long you deliberate, how long you need to come to a unanimous decision on any count.”
What sentence would he likely get if he is convicted on any/all charges?
Someone like Chauvin who does not have a criminal record will likely get 12 and a half years for the second or third-degree murder charges, and four years for the manslaughter charge, according to Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines.
How likely is it that he will be convicted?
According to a story from NPR, a study by Bowling Green State University found that between 2015 and 2019, there were 104 nonfederal law enforcement officers arrested for murder or manslaughter as a result of an on-duty shooting in which the officer shot and killed someone.
Thirty-five of those arrested were convicted of a crime, 15 by a guilty plea and 20 by a jury trial. Four of those were convicted of murder. Eighteen were convicted of manslaughter, two of official misconduct, two were convicted of reckless homicide, three were convicted of negligent homicide, five were convicted of federal criminal deprivation of civil rights and one was convicted of reckless discharge of a firearm.
Forty-five of the arrests ended in non-convictions. The other 24 cases are still pending.