Derek Chauvin Trial: Live Stream Updates | #schoolshooting


Members of the the National Guard were stationed around Minneapolis, bracing for possible unrest that could occur after the jury reaches a verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial.
Credit…Joshua Rashaad McFadden for The New York Times

Gov. Tim Walz of Minnesota declared a “peacetime emergency” in the metropolitan Minneapolis area on Monday as the jury began deliberations in the murder trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin. The governor promised to protect protesters’ rights, but called for more resources to prevent the kind of property destruction that happened during the unrest that followed George Floyd’s death last year.

Law enforcement officers patrolling metropolitan Minneapolis have been overwhelmed by nightly protests since April 11, when a white police officer in the suburb of Brooklyn Center shot and killed a Black man, Governor Walz said in an executive order on Monday.

The order would allow police officers from neighboring states to be called in if needed, joining more than 3,000 National Guard troops and about 1,000 police officers already on duty.

“Local and state resources have been fully deployed, but they are inadequate to address the threat,” Mr. Walz said in his order. “Recent events in Brooklyn Center have exhausted Minnesota’s local and state resources and are likely to hamper our ability to provide public safety and protect critical infrastructure.”

Mr. Walz’s declaration came as Minneapolis braced for potential unrest over a possibly imminent verdict in Mr. Chauvin’s murder trial.

The governor promised to allow peaceful protests, but warned against any violence like that seen last summer, which he said had destroyed more than 1,000 businesses. “We cannot allow civil unrest to descend into chaos,” he said at a news conference on Monday.

He accepted responsibility for not enacting changes to policing and criminal justice, including the cash bail system and the use of traffic stops, that he and other leaders had promised last year after Mr. Floyd’s death. He said progress on those changes had stalled.

The governor said the deaths of Black men like Mr. Floyd or Daunte Wright, the man killed in Brooklyn Center, were unacceptable. Community leaders must listen to protesters who are calling for “change, or we will be right back here again,” he said at the news conference. “We cannot continue to live like this.”

Representative Maxine Waters visited demonstrators as they protested the killing of Daunte Wright outside the Police Department in Brooklyn Center, Minn., on Saturday.
Credit…Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

Following closing arguments on Monday, both Derek Chauvin’s lawyer and Judge Peter A. Cahill suggested that a Democratic congresswoman’s comments about racial justice protesters, suggesting they should “get more confrontational” if the jury doesn’t return a guilty verdict, could affect the outcome of the former officer’s trial.

Eric J. Nelson, Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, argued that Representative Maxine Waters, Democrat of California, had interfered with “the sanctity of the jury process” when she told reporters in Brooklyn Center, Minn., on Saturday night that demonstrators would need to “stay on the street” and “get more active” if Mr. Chauvin was acquitted.

“An elected official, a United States congressperson, was making what I interpreted to be — what I think are reasonably interpreted to be — threats against the sanctity of the jury process,” Mr. Nelson said, calling for a mistrial because of Ms. Waters’s remarks.

Judge Cahill dismissed his motion, but said that Ms. Waters may have inadvertently handed the defense a gift. “I’ll give you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned,” he said.

Still, the judge, who ended every day of testimony during the trial by telling jurors, “Have a good night and don’t watch the news,” added that he believes the jurors have been following those instructions and would not be directly exposed to Ms. Waters’s comments. “A congresswoman’s opinion really doesn’t matter a whole lot,” he added.

Ms. Waters’s unusual cameo at the trial came as Republicans in Washington were seeking to capitalize on her comments, accusing her of inciting violence — a similar charge to the one leveled against former President Donald J. Trump in his impeachment trial in February — and clamoring for Democratic congressional leaders to punish her.

Ms. Waters, the chairwoman of the Financial Services Committee and a frequent target of rage from the right, stopped on Saturday to meet with demonstrators protesting police brutality against the police killing of Daunte Wright.

At one point, asked what protesters should do if no guilty verdict was reached in Mr. Chauvin’s trial, Ms. Waters said: “We’ve got to stay on the street, and we’ve got to get more active. We’ve got to get more confrontational; we’ve got to make sure that they know that we mean business.”

Representative Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California and the minority leader, said that he would introduce a resolution to censure the congresswoman if Democratic leaders refused to. The reaction was striking, after Mr. McCarthy declined earlier this year to take any action against Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Georgia Republican who in the past had endorsed assassinating Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Ms. Pelosi defended Ms. Waters on Monday, telling reporters that her comments had nothing to do with inciting violence.

“Maxine talked about confrontation in the manner of the civil rights movement,” Ms. Pelosi said. “No, I don’t think she should apologize.”

Republicans have invoked the sharp-tongued Ms. Waters in the past to excuse extreme rhetoric within their party. Mr. Trump’s defense team repeatedly played video at his impeachment trial of her and other Democrats speaking in harsh terms, arguing that the former president’s bellicose words were no different than those on the other side.

Students from Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis joined other students in a statewide walkout on Monday to protest racial injustice.
Credit…Joshua Rashaad McFadden for The New York Times

Students streamed out of schools across Minnesota on Monday afternoon to protest racial injustice, in a coordinated action that coincided with closing arguments in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer charged with killing George Floyd.

At 1:47 p.m., students held a moment of silence for Daunte Wright, a 20-year old Black man who was fatally shot last week by a police officer in Brooklyn Center, Minn., about 10 miles from the courthouse where Mr. Chauvin is on trial.

The walkout was organized by Minnesota Teen Activists, a group created in response to racial incidents in schools and the killing of George Floyd. Gabby Hou, a sophomore at Champlin Park High School in Brooklyn Park and a founder of the group, said students from at least 118 schools participated in the walkout on Monday.

A crowd of students, mostly from high schools, gathered outside the U.S. Bank Stadium in downtown Minneapolis as snow fell; The Minneapolis Star Tribune estimated their number at about 250. At Champlin Park High, hundreds of students chanted “This is what community looks like!” and marched around the school’s track carrying signs, Ms. Hou said, adding, “You could feel the energy.”

Students wearing mostly black clothing gathered outside Fridley Senior High School a few miles to the east. “When you see injustice, stand up,” a woman standing on a concrete block is seen in a video recording shouting through a megaphone to the masked crowd at the school. “When you see injustice speak out.”

She referred to the recent killings of Adam Toledo, 13, who was shot by a Chicago police officer, and Anthony J. Thompson Jr., 17, who was killed in an officer-involved shooting at Austin-East High School in Knoxville, Tenn.

“If you thought police brutality was just for adults, you thought wrong,” another woman is heard to say in the video. “They’re killing us, they’re killing the young people, they’re killing the future of this country. And it’s about time that we realized it was the young people who stood in the face of racism and demanded change.”

The Minneapolis Public Schools said students would not be disciplined for participating in protests as long as the protests remained peaceful. The district’s policy is to count walking out of school as an unexcused absence.

Similarly, the St. Paul Public School District said it does not discipline students for peaceful protests.

Helen Tefera, a senior at St. Louis Park High School just west of Minneapolis, said she had helped organize the walkout at her school, which she said was endorsed by administrators. She estimated that several hundred students walked out of class in a show of support for Mr. Wright and in a stand against racism in general.

“We were outside at a time when we were supposed to be eating lunch, we were outside at a time when we were supposed to be in class,” she said. “We’re walking out for something that shouldn’t exist in the first place: racism.”

Fedrick Ingram, a band teacher and union executive, says educators need to be part of the solution to the nation’s racial tensions. He addressed a rally in Tallahassee, Fla., in January 2020.
Credit…Tori Lynn Schneider/Tallahassee Democrat, via Associated Press

“This is the epicenter of justice and change,” Fedrick Ingram said in George Floyd Square on Monday. “Where else would you rather be?”

Mr. Ingram, 47, said he flew in from Tallahassee, Fla., in the morning and made his way to 38th Street and Chicago Avenue South in Minneapolis to lend support to the community during closing arguments in the murder trial of Derick Chauvin.

He had traded 90-degree weather in Florida for snow flurries in Minnesota, but he said he didn’t mind. As a Black man and an educator — he is a high school band director, past president of the Florida Education Association and secretary-treasurer of the American Federation of Teachers — he has visited Minneapolis several times since the unrest erupted over Mr. Floyd’s death.

“We fight for social justice every day,” Mr. Ingram said. “This impacts schools. It impacts teachers. It impacts families, and that all impacts the work that we do every day. It’s not only important to this community, it’s also important to the nation.”

Mr. Ingram said he doesn’t view himself an activist, but “when I see those kinds of atrocities happen to people that look like me — that look like my son and look like my family members — it’s painful.” And he added, “The American ideal deserves better.”

He said he couldn’t predict what would happen in the trial or on the streets afterward. “Whatever the judicial system comes up with, we hope that it’s fair,” he said. “Fair to the family, fair to our society of Americans at large who are watching every day.”

He said teachers needed to be part of the solution to the nation’s racial divide. “Every day in the schools, we try to teach our kids value systems, moral values, character values — we try to teach them how to get through life,” he said.

Members of the George Floyd family gathered outside the courthouse on Monday with the Rev. Al Sharpton, the family of Daunte Wright, the attorney Ben Crump, government officials and activists to pray before the closing arguments began in the trial.
Credit…Joshua Rashaad McFadden for The New York Times

After three weeks of testimony from 45 witnesses, the lawyers gave their concluding arguments on Monday in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with murdering George Floyd.

Judge Peter A. Cahill started the day with instructions for the jury, whose task it is to determine whether Mr. Chauvin is guilty of the charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter. For second-degree murder, the most serious charge, the state has to prove that Mr. Chauvin assaulted Mr. Floyd and that the assault was a substantial factor in his death.

Prosecutors do not have to prove that he intended to kill Mr. Floyd.

Arguments began with a commanding rebuke of the defense’s case from one of the prosecutors, Steve Schleicher. He called several of the defense’s points “nonsense” and said that Mr. Chauvin betrayed his oath as a police officer.

For his part, Eric J. Nelson, Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, asked jurors to take in the totality of the evidence, and criticized the state for dismissing other possible contributing factors in Mr. Floyd’s death, including heart problems and drug use.

Here are some key takeaways.

  • Mr. Schleicher began with a chilling description of the arrest, setting the tone for his primary argument: That jurors should “believe their eyes” when they watch the videos of Mr. Floyd being pinned to the ground for nine minutes and 29 seconds. Mr. Schleicher talked about the “unyielding pavement,” and what he believed to be Mr. Floyd’s desperate struggle to lift his chest and fill his lungs with air. He reminded jurors of Mr. Floyd’s last words, “Please, I can’t breathe.”

  • He reinforced what Mr. Floyd’s brother and former girlfriend told the jury: That Mr. Floyd was loved by many people who knew him, that he loved his mother, that he was more than the symbol he became in death. He died “surrounded by strangers,” Mr. Schleicher said — pinned between the pavement and the knee of Mr. Chauvin. “Not a familiar face to say his final words,” Mr. Schleicher said. “But he did say them to someone — he said them to someone who he did not know by name, but he knew him from the uniform he wore and the badge he wore, and he called him ‘Mr. Officer.’”

  • A primary focus of the prosecution was dismissing some of the arguments of the defense. “You’re not required to accept nonsense,” Mr. Schleicher told jurors, pointing to the opinion offered by a defense witness that Mr. Chauvin’s restraint of Mr. Floyd did not constitute use of force, and that the exhaust from the tailpipe of a police cruiser might have contributed to Mr. Floyd’s death. “Use your common sense,” Mr. Schleicher said. “Believe your eyes. What you saw, you saw.”

  • Mr. Nelson focused largely on whether Mr. Chauvin acted the way a reasonable police officer would. He reinforced ideas that he had proposed during the three weeks of witness testimony, including that suspects who do not appear to be dangerous can quickly become so. “A reasonable police officer understands the intensity of the struggle,” he said, pointing out how difficult it was for Mr. Chauvin and other officers to put Mr. Floyd into the back of a police cruiser.

  • He also highlighted the moment that Mr. Floyd took his last breath, showing those few seconds from the vantage point of a security camera. At that moment, Mr. Nelson said, a crowd of angry bystanders, who could also pose a threat to officers, was becoming louder and louder, and that Mr. Chauvin pulled a can of mace from his belt — a sign that he felt he was in danger. “All of the evidence shows that Mr. Chauvin thought he was following his training,” he said.

  • Mr. Nelson hit on the issue of “intent,” asking jurors to consider whether Mr. Chauvin would have purposefully caused unlawful harm to Mr. Floyd. Noting that several body-worn cameras were recording the incident, along with the cellphones of bystanders, Mr. Nelson asked jurors why a person would purposefully break the rules when they knew they were being filmed and that their actions would be reviewed by their supervisors.

  • On Mr. Floyd’s cause of death, Mr. Nelson said it was “preposterous” for the state and several of its witnesses to have asked jurors to ignore a host of possible contributing factors, including Mr. Floyd’s pre-existing heart problems and drug use. He insisted that the defense’s focus on Mr. Floyd’s drug use was not an attack on his character, but was prompted by the issue’s medical significance.

  • Jerry Blackwell, another prosecutor, responded to the defense by continuing to urge jurors to follow “common sense,” saying that even a 9-year-old girl who testified earlier in the trial could see that Mr. Chauvin was hurting Mr. Floyd.

  • Using a chart that showed a dot for every day that Mr. Floyd was alive, Mr. Blackwell spoke of how unlikely it would be that Mr. Floyd would happen to die on May 25, if not for Mr. Chauvin’s use of force. Jurors must decide whether Mr. Chauvin’s restraint was a “substantial factor” in Mr. Floyd’s death, not whether it was the sole factor.

  • Mr. Blackwell ended his rebuttal by reminding jurors that some witnesses had said Mr. Floyd died because his heart was too big. “Now, having seen all the evidence, having heard all the evidence, you know the truth,” he said. “The truth of the matter is that the reason George Floyd is dead is because Mr. Chauvin’s heart was too small.

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Prosecution Presents Rebuttal in Closing Arguments

Jerry Blackwell, a prosecutor in the trial of the former police officer Derek Chauvin, made closing arguments on Monday, urging jurors to use common sense to evaluate the evidence and find Mr. Chauvin guilty in the death of George Floyd.

Ultimately, it really isn’t that complicated in what it is you have to decide with respect to the excessive use of force and the issue of causation — the fact that is so simple that a child could understand it. In fact, a child did understand it, when the 9-year-old girl said, get off of him. That’s how simple it was. Get off of him. Take, for example, the notion that Mr. Floyd, dying of cardiopulmonary arrest, dying from low oxygen was just coincidental. He just happened to die at the same time, in the same place of factors completely unrelated to what Mr. Chauvin was doing with his subdual restraint and neck compression. You know, when the case started, I think you all were asked and talked to about there being two sides to every story, two sides to every story, which is one of the most dangerous things, I think, about the process of truth, because it suggests that everything is simply reduced to a story. And if it is a story, that means there can be to multiple sides to the story and there can never be a truth or reality, except that what we’re about here is getting to the truth. Mr. Floyd died because his heart was too big. You heard that testimony. And now having seen all the evidence, haven’t heard all the evidence. You know the truth. And the truth of the matter is that the reason George Floyd is dead is because Mr. Chauvin’s heart was too small.

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Jerry Blackwell, a prosecutor in the trial of the former police officer Derek Chauvin, made closing arguments on Monday, urging jurors to use common sense to evaluate the evidence and find Mr. Chauvin guilty in the death of George Floyd.CreditCredit…Still image, via Court TV

The verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial is now in the hands of 12 jurors after prosecutors and Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer made closing arguments on Monday.

Jerry W. Blackwell, a prosecutor, had the final word before jurors were sent out of the courtroom to begin deliberating over a verdict in the trial of Mr. Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who has been charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in George Floyd’s death.

Mr. Blackwell painted the nearly three hours of closing arguments from Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer as misleading “stories” and said they did not hold up to scrutiny. Mr. Blackwell’s comments came during a portion of the trial in which the prosecution is allowed a rebuttal. Another prosecutor had made closing arguments for the state earlier in the day.

Mr. Blackwell suggested the arguments from Eric J. Nelson, Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, bordered on preposterous and urged jurors to use “common sense” to evaluate the evidence and find Mr. Chauvin guilty.

In his final comments to jurors, Mr. Blackwell brought up another argument of Mr. Nelson’s, that Mr. Floyd’s enlarged heart could be partially responsible for his death.

“You were told, for example, that Mr. Floyd died because his heart was too big,” Mr. Blackwell said. “You heard that testimony. And now having seen all the evidence, having heard all the evidence, you know the truth. And the truth of the matter is that the reason George Floyd is dead is because Mr. Chauvin’s heart was too small.”

Earlier, Mr. Blackwell had also argued that Mr. Chauvin was not the one in fear during his encounter with Mr. Floyd on May 25. He showed a photograph of Mr. Chauvin’s face as he knelt on Mr. Floyd, then showed a photograph of Mr. Floyd’s face as another officer approached him with a gun raised. Mr. Floyd’s face was what fear looked like, the prosecutor said.

He said Mr. Nelson, by arguing that Mr. Floyd’s underlying health conditions may have caused his death, was arguing that “he just happened to die at the same time, in the same place, of factors completely unrelated to what Mr. Chauvin was doing.”

To illustrate what he said was the absurdity of this argument, Mr. Blackwell showed a graphic with more than 17,000 dots to represent each day of Mr. Floyd’s life. Every one of those days, Mr. Blackwell said, Mr. Floyd was alive and breathing, until Mr. Chauvin knelt on him for more than nine minutes.

Mr. Blackwell said that 45 witnesses had testified in the trial, but that common sense was the “46th witness,” and one that jurors should take back to deliberations with them. The 12 jurors will be sequestered until they make a decision on each of the three charges; they must be unanimous to convict.

Derek Chauvin’s lawyer is now saying in court that the comments of Representative Maxine Waters of California, who attended a protest in a Minneapolis suburb after a police officer’s killing of Daunte Wright last week, had the effect of “threatening and intimidating the jury.” In response to a question from reporters at the protest in nearby Brooklyn Center, Minn., about what demonstrators should do if Mr. Chauvin is acquitted, Ms. Waters said: “Well, we’ve got to stay on the street. And we’ve got to get more active. We’ve got to get more confrontational. We’ve got to make sure that they know that we mean business.”

“I’ll give you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned,” Judge Cahill says, sounding frustrated with her and other officials’ comments. Still, the judge, who ended every day of testimony by telling jurors, “Have a good night and don’t watch the news,” added that he believes the jurors have been following those instructions. “A congresswoman’s opinion really doesn’t matter a whole lot,” he added.

With the jury heading off for deliberations, defense lawyer Eric Nelson is arguing prosecutorial misconduct because the prosecution suggested that the defense was essentially lying. He is saying that these are grounds for the judge to declare a mistrial.

Now Nelson is discussing things that were said about the case in the news media and how that could impact the jurors. And Derek Chauvin is still taking notes, even after the jury is gone. At this point, you have to wonder what he is writing.

Protesters demonstrating near the Brooklyn Center Police Department last week after Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, was fatally shot by the police.
Credit…Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

After several nights of protests against a police killing in nearby Brooklyn Center, Minneapolis law enforcement agencies and community groups asked for peace during a news briefing Monday, as the trial against the former police officer Derek Chauvin comes to a close.

Minneapolis has been preparing for eight months for potential unrest following a verdict. More than 3,000 National Guard soldiers and airmen have been deployed in Minneapolis to assist local law enforcement, schools will move to remote learning, and businesses have been boarded up.

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo asked that protesters express themselves peacefully and promised that the police response would be grounded in “de-escalation.” He said law enforcement had listened to feedback over the police response to protests in Brooklyn Center and would adjust their approach.

During those protests, officers deployed rubber bullets and pepper spray, protesters were arrested and journalists were rounded up and ordered to lie on their stomachs until officers could photograph their press credentials. On Friday night, a federal judge granted a temporary restraining order that bars Minnesota state law enforcement officers from arresting or using force against the press, which remains in effect this week.

Chief Arradondo said he wanted to work with the community to keep things peaceful, and that the protests following the police killing of Daunte Wright had sent agencies into crisis mode.

“Operation Safety Net is not about arresting people,” he said. “We want peaceful assembly. We want peaceful protest. We know we have a city that is in mourning, that is in grief. The last thing we want is to turn this into an enforcement situation.”

Minneapolis community leaders, including a representative from the N.A.A.C.P. and other local organizations, joined Mr. Arradondo and other officials at the briefing to call for peaceful protests.

Trahern Pollard, founder of the organization We Push for Peace, said he wanted to protect the community from the property destruction that happened during last year’s protests.

“A lot of our community is dealing with trauma and hurt and pain and frustration,” he said. “It’s important that we figure out another way to channel those emotions versus being destructive.”

Before sending them to deliberate, Judge Peter Cahill tells the jurors that they should not consider the consequences or penalties of their verdict. Of course, many wonder what will happen if the jury chooses to acquit.

“The reason George Floyd is dead is because Mr. Chauvin’s heart was too small.” Those were the prosecution’s final words to the jury. And with that, the fate of Derek Chauvin is now in the hands of 12 Minneapolis jurors.

One reason that the prosecution has emphasized many times that a 9-year-old girl was present at George Floyd’s death — in addition to her being a compelling witness when she took the stand — is that the state is asking for a higher prison sentence than Minnesota’s guidelines call for if Derek Chauvin is convicted. For that to happen, the jury will have to agree on aggravating factors, one of which is that the crime was committed in front of children.

Derek Chauvin’s defense lawyer spent most of his time talking about what a “reasonable officer” would have done in the situation that his client found himself in. I haven’t heard Jerry Blackwell address that yet in his rebuttal, but it would seem to be an important point for him to respond to.

Blackwell does address an elephant in the room when it comes to the defense argument that George Floyd might have been poisoned by carbon monoxide from the exhaust of the police squad car that he was being restrained next to. He suggests that it would not be a reasonable use of force for a police officer to hold a suspect’s head by a tailpipe.

What Jerry Blackwell seems to be doing very effectively is appealing to the jurors’ sensibilities. The prosecutor showed a photo of Derek Chauvin’s face as he knelt on George Floyd’s neck and asked if that looked like someone who was afraid. And then he showed a photo of Floyd while an officer pointed a gun at his face, and said that was the face of someone who is afraid.

Blackwell called the bystanders who watched helplessly as George Floyd died a “bouquet of humanity.” He attacked the argument that Chauvin was fearful of them, saying that it was Chauvin who had all the power — the one with the guns and badge and mace.

In an effort to appeal to the jury’s common sense, Jerry Blackwell, the proscutor, uses a graphic with 17,026 teal dots, one representing every day that George Floyd was alive. Blackwell said that Floyd lived with all of his pre-existing conditions on each of those days, except for May 25 of last year, when Derek Chauvin used “deadly force” on him.

Unlike during prosecutor Steve Schleicher’s argument this morning, which he was able to spend time crafting, Jerry Blackwell in rebuttal has to mostly respond directly to things that the defense lawyer, Eric Nelson, said. So while he could certainly prepare and anticipate what Nelson would likely say, he also had to listen closely to Nelson’s long closing and tailor his rebuttal to what he was hearing.

Blackwell gives a direct rebuttal to Nelson’s misstatement of the law on cause of death. Nelson had said that prosecutors needed to prove that Derek Chauvin’s knee on George Floyd’s neck was the only factor in his death, and that drugs and Floyd’s heart condition played no part. Again, the law says Chauvin’s use of force had to be a “substantial causal factor,” not the only factor, for the jury to convict him.

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The defense in the Derek Chauvin trial, the former Minneapolis police officer accused of killing George Floyd, argued in its closing statements that the jury must prove Mr. Chauvin was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.CreditCredit…Still image, via Court TV

The lawyer for Derek Chauvin argued on Monday that the former officer had acted reasonably when he knelt on George Floyd for more than nine minutes, imploring jurors to also consider the moments before officers took Mr. Floyd to the ground as they begin to debate whether to convict or acquit Mr. Chauvin.

Eric J. Nelson, Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, said in his closing argument that there was much more to the case than the moments that had been captured on a cellphone video and seen by the world. Mr. Nelson argued that there was at least reasonable doubt about two vital issues: whether Mr. Chauvin’s actions were allowed under Minneapolis Police Department policies and whether Mr. Chauvin had caused Mr. Floyd’s death. Jurors must believe that prosecutors have proved their case beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict.

The prosecution made its closing argument earlier on Monday, and another prosecutor will have a chance to rebut Mr. Nelson’s argument later in the day, after which the 12 jurors who have listened to three weeks of testimony will begin to deliberate over a verdict. They must be unanimous to convict Mr. Chauvin of any of the three charges he faces: second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

For nearly three hours, Mr. Nelson focused on Mr. Chauvin’s decision-making and on what factors may have caused Mr. Floyd’s death. He emphasized that the jury instructions say that no crime has been committed if a police officer was justified in using reasonable force and that jurors should determine what is justified by considering what “a reasonable police officer in the same situation would believe to be necessary.”

Determining what is necessary, Mr. Nelson argued, requires paying close attention to the moments before officers put Mr. Floyd face down on the ground, when they tried to get a handcuffed Mr. Floyd into the back of a police car, which he resisted, saying he was claustrophobic. Prosecutors have repeatedly noted the exact amount of time — nine minutes and 29 seconds — that Mr. Chauvin knelt on Mr. Floyd, but Mr. Nelson said that was but one piece of evidence.

“It’s not the proper analysis, because the nine minutes and 29 seconds ignores the previous 16 minutes and 59 seconds,” Mr. Nelson said. He added: “A reasonable police officer would, in fact, take into consideration the previous 16 minutes and 59 seconds.”

Mr. Nelson has argued throughout the trial that a group of bystanders who were yelling for officers to get off Mr. Floyd and check his pulse had actually taken officers’ attention away from Mr. Floyd’s declining health. On Monday, he highlighted the moment in which experts have said Mr. Floyd took his last breath, pointing out that at the same time, an off-duty firefighter and another bystander had moved closer to Mr. Chauvin, prompting the officer to pull out his mace.

“Human beings make decisions in highly-stressful situations that they believe to be right in the very moment it is occurring,” Mr. Nelson said.

Mr. Nelson also criticized the prosecutors’ medical experts, many of whom had testified that Mr. Chauvin’s actions were the main cause of Mr. Floyd’s death, saying their testimony “flies in the absolute face of reason and common sense.” He particularly singled out the testimony of Dr. Martin J. Tobin, a pulmonologist, who he said had selectively chosen screenshots that clouded the context of full videos.

“Do not let yourselves be misled by a single still frame image,” Mr. Nelson said. “Put the evidence in its proper context.”

Mr. Nelson said he was not arguing that Mr. Floyd had died of an overdose, but that jurors must consider a broad range of factors about what could have caused Mr. Floyd’s death, including the poor health of his heart and the fentanyl and methamphetamine found in his system.

Mr. Nelson said that when jurors considered all of the evidence, they would conclude that prosecutors have not reached their burden.

“The state has failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, and therefore Mr. Chauvin should be found not guilty of all counts,” he said.

Jerry Blackwell, who provided opening statements for the prosecution three weeks ago, is now giving the state’s rebuttal. “Ultimately, it isn’t really that complicated,” he says. And again, he repeats, “You can believe your eyes.”

The question of common sense is a central theme here, with both sides arguing that common sense is on its side. Blackwell tells jurors that “common sense” is the 46th witness that will go with them into deliberations.

After Eric Nelson finishes his closing argument for the defense, Judge Peter Cahill excuses the jury for five minutes so the lawyers can argue over a legal matter.

The two sides were arguing about how Eric Nelson described the intent that the state needs to prove in respect to third-degree assault, which is the foundation for the second-degree murder charge. Judge Cahill says prosecutor Jerry Blackwell can address it in his rebuttal, which is starting now, but he did advise the jury that they should follow the instructions he read and not necessarily how the lawyers describe it in their closings.

This didn’t come up much at trial, but Eric Nelson, the defense lawyer, is talking now about the delayed efforts by paramedics to administer CPR to George Floyd and questioning why they didn’t give him Narcan, a drug that reverses opioid overdoses. It’s another way to try and raise reasonable doubt about whether Derek Chauvin’s actions caused Floyd’s death.

Two key points from the lunch-break legal commentary on local television here in Minneapolis: One, as I pointed out earlier, defense laywer Eric Nelson seemed to have misstated the law by implying that the state needs to prove that Derek Chauvin’s actions were the sole cause of George Floyd’s death, and that other things like drug use and a heart condition did not play a role. To convict, the jury needs to find that Chauvin’s use of force was a “substantial causal factor,” and some lawyers were surprised that the prosecution didn’t object.

Second point: A number of experts pointed out how rare it is for a judge to interrupt a closing argument to have a lunch break. Some said they had never seen that happen before.

We are back after the brief lunch break, and defense laywer Eric Nelson is resuming his closing, which has already run for two and a half hours.

And just like that, Judge Cahill cuts into Eric Nelson’s closing for a 30-minute lunch break for the jury.

The interruption comes as Derek Chauvin’s lawyer reaches the two hour and 30 minute mark of his closing argument, with no end in sight. The prosecutors’ closing argument lasted less than two hours, though they will also have a chance to rebut Nelson’s arguments once he is done.

With this pace of closing arguments, I wonder if the jury will even start deliberating today. There will likely be a lunch break before the prosecution gives its rebuttal, and then there will be more jury instructions read by Judge Cahill.

You really do have to wonder about the scheduling here. It’s after 2 p.m. local time, and there has not been a lunch break. I’ve been able to snack here in my hotel room watching this, but I don’t think the jurors can do the same. And not even a bathroom break for the last two and a half hours, while Eric Nelson has been giving his closing argument. They never went two straight hours during the trial without a break. Seems very difficult.

Eric Nelson, the defense lawyer, brings up George Floyd’s drug use during his closing argument but insists it’s not a character issue, pushing back on what activists have criticized as an attack on Floyd’s character. He acknowledges the opioid epidemic in America, saying, “It is a true crisis this country is facing.”

One thing that has stood out to me is Nelson’s insistence that the state has said drugs or Floyd’s health issues played no role in his death. But under the law, other factors that contributed to the death don’t absolve Derek Chauvin of culpability. The jury has to find that Chauvin’s actions were only a “substantial causal factor” in Floyd’s death, not that other factors did not play a role.

Eric Nelson, the defense lawyer, is attacking the person who was perhaps the prosecution’s most engaging medical witness, Dr. Martin Tobin, saying that at the moment that Dr. Tobin said George Floyd was using his fingertips and knuckles as leverage to breathe, he was actually in the side recovery position, which should have allowed him to breathe. “You cannot take an isolated single frame and reach any conclusions,” he says.

He is also attacking another point in Dr. Tobin’s analysis: The moment he saw Derek Chauvin’s boot tip lift off the ground, increasing the weight on Floyd. Nelson says it maybe lasted a fraction of a second.

This is part of the job of a lawyer, to point jurors to those small things that they might otherwise miss. Nelson also made the point here that the knuckle push happened shortly after Floyd was taken to the ground, suggesting that he could not really have been struggling for air already at that point.

Eric Nelson, a lawyer for Derek Chauvin, said in his closing arguments that Mr. Chauvin did not mean to hurt George Floyd, pointing out that the arresting officers called for an ambulance twice while holding Mr. Floyd down.

All of the evidence shows that Mr. Chauvin thought he was following his training. He was, in fact, following his training. He was following Minneapolis police department policies. He was trained this way. It all demonstrates a lack of intent. There is absolutely no evidence that Officer Chauvin intentionally, purposefully applied an unlawful force.

Just one example of how the local medical examiner, Dr. Andrew Baker, presented a problem for the prosecution: He said he did not watch the bystander video before performing the autopsy of George Floyd because he did not want to be biased, and he found no evidence of asphyxia, two things that Derek Chauvin’s defense just cited. But Dr. Baker did watch the video after the autopsy, before determining the cause of death, as virtually any medical examiner would have — the video, many forensic pathologists told me, is medically relevant, precisely because evidence of asphyxia often does not show up during autopsies.

If you’re finding the defense argument hard to follow, you’re not alone. Both sides have been long-winded, but it is in Derek Chauvin’s best interest to ask the jury to determine the relevancy of multiple possible factors in George Floyd’s death — the more the better.

“It’s tragic. It’s tragic,” the defense attorney, Eric Nelson, says. That’s the first we have heard from Derek Chauvin’s side any empathy about how this all ended.

Defense attorney Eric Nelson asks if an officer would apply an unlawful use of force knowing that there are multiple video cameras filming him. But the public sees videos of police officers behaving in disrespectful, devastating and even fatal ways virtually every day.

Would Derek Chauvin purposefully have done something that he knew was unlawful when he knew he was being filmed? One argument of activists is that body cameras don’t work because officers may not care if they are filmed — because they rarely get punished.

“Officers are human beings capable of making mistakes in highly stressful situations,” defense attorney Eric Nelson says. It sounds like an attempt to tell the jurors that even if they think Derek Chauvin was wrong, it may have been a mistake. That speaks more to manslaughter than murder. (Chauvin is charged with both.)

Although this trial is the first in Minnesota history to be televised, Judge Peter A. Cahill has placed strict restrictions on what the cameras can capture. There have been no close-ups during dramatic moments and no shots of the jurors.

Two members of the news media are allowed in the courtroom at any given time, and there is room for only one member of Mr. Floyd’s family and one member of Mr. Chauvin’s.

While the judge’s orders may seem restrictive, the normal court rules in Minnesota forbid any visual or audio trial coverage without the consent of both sides (in this case, the prosecution objected on the grounds that it could make witnesses reluctant to testify). Even with consent, the normal rules say there can be no audio coverage of potential jurors during jury selection, witnesses can decline to be shown and any motions heard outside of the jury’s presence are out of bounds.

But because the pandemic has placed sharp restrictions on the number of people who can be in the courtroom, Judge Cahill wrote that allowing cameras to capture the proceedings was the only way to ensure the right to a public trial. During jury selection, the candidates were heard, but not seen.

There was a lot of argument about the number of use-of-force experts that the prosecution called, with the judge limiting some of their testimony to avoid duplication. Now Eric Nelson is exploiting that in his closing argument for the defense, saying that the experts disagreed about exactly when Derek Chauvin’s use of force became unreasonable. This underscores his whole argument about officers having to use their own judgment in fluid situations.

Eric Nelson, the defense lawyer, says that at the moment that George Floyd took his last breath, two other things happened: An off-duty fire department E.M.T. walked up from behind Derek Chauvin, startling him, and he took out his can of mace in response to the crowd. In the video that Nelson shows while discussing that moment, the most salient thing is a bystander saying of Floyd: “He cannot breathe. Look at him.”

I recall that in his opening statement three weeks ago, Eric Nelson argued that Derek Chauvin did exactly what he was trained to do. Here, in his closing argument, he is trying to stitch all that together by showing video that may be unflattering to his client, but then cutting from that to the Police Department’s policy manual and using that to justify Chauvin’s actions.

Eric Nelson, the defense lawyer, has taken a lot longer than I thought he would arguing that Derek Chauvin’s use of force was justified and talking about the bystanders’ reaction to Chauvin’s actions. He hasn’t even gotten to the main issue which experts have said will likely give him the best chance for raising reasonable doubt among the jurors: the cause of George Floyd’s death.

Nelson is reading from a police policy manual that instructs officers to never underestimate a crowd — but he acknowledges that this is meant to describe much larger crowds than the dozen or so people who gathered at the site of George Floyd’s arrest, like at protests.

Security-camera footage showing the arrest of George Floyd outside of Cup Foods last May. 
Credit…Still image, via Court TV

In his closing arguments, Eric J. Nelson, a lawyer for Derek Chauvin, walked jurors through the different perspectives of the police officers during the arrest of George Floyd, at one point focusing on the moment they struggled to put Mr. Floyd in the patrol car.

The futility of their efforts became apparent. They weren’t able to get him into the car. Three Minneapolis police officers were not able to get Mr. Floyd into the car. They themselves are experiencing that, that surge of adrenaline. A reasonable police officer will be experiencing that surge of a jump of adrenaline and again, balancing all of the evidence against each other.

I’m having a hard time seeing how it benefits the defense to bring up the martial arts expert who saw what was happening to George Floyd and objected, or for that matter Darnella Frazier’s bystander video. Eric Nelson, the defense attorney, seems to be making a point about perspective — Frazier didn’t even know that the other two officers who helped pin down George Floyd were there, he says.

In the same argument about different perspectives, Nelson describes another witness, Charles McMillian, as “61 years old, third-grade education, grew up in the South.”

There’s a reveal. Defense lawyer Eric Nelson says three people involved in this trial went to the same high school: Nelson himself; Darnella Frazier, the teenager who took the viral bystander video; and the Minneapolis police chief, Medaria Arradondo. Just like the prosecution tried to liken the jury to the bystanders watching George Floyd be restrained, Nelson is saying, hey, we’re all members of the same community.

Much of Eric Nelson’s defense case has rested on hypotheticals, like whether the prone position is dangerous if you’re sunbathing in Florida; whether George Floyd was feigning a need for medical attention to avoid arrest; and whether a reasonable police officer might have thought that Floyd had “excited delirium” — though multiple experts testified that he did not show the symptoms of excited delirium, itself a controversial medical diagnosis.

It’s surprising to see how much video of the arrest of George Floyd that Derek Chauvin’s lawyer is playing for the jury. Much of the video evidence in the case has been considered helpful to the prosecution, but Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric Nelson, seems to think there are moments that also show that the officers may have acted reasonably. (Notably, Nelson has focused on the officers’ body camera videos and has not played the graphic bystander video that sparked much of the anger over George Floyd’s death.)

Eric Nelson, the defense lawyer, says it is not uncommon for suspects to fake a medical emergency to avoid getting arrested. This was the point that Nelson wanted to make earlier in the trial when he presented evidence of a previous arrest of George Floyd a year before he died, in which an ambulance was also called. But the judge strictly limited that evidence. Now Nelson is just suggesting it in his closing.

“The nine minutes and 29 seconds ignores the previous 16 minutes and 59 seconds,” Eric Nelson, the defense lawyer, says. Nelson is suggesting that to determine whether Derek Chauvin acted reasonably during the time that he knelt on George Floyd, you have to look at the period before Floyd was on the ground.

Nelson has repeatedly brought up the idea that a compliant suspect can suddenly turn violent. There was a lot of prosecution testimony making the point that an officer has to respond to what the suspect is doing, not what the suspect might do.

Eric J. Nelson, a lawyer for Derek Chauvin, reminded jurors that a police officer’s job is fluid and that officers are constantly taking into consideration the situation and how it might change.

And then you look at the direct knowledge that a reasonable police officer would have at the precise moment force was used. That includes information that they gather from dispatch, their direct observations of the scene, the subjects and the current surroundings. They have to take into consideration whether the suspect — the suspect — was under the influence of a controlled substance. They can take into consideration — because, again, this is a dynamic and ever changing, just like life, things change, it’s a dynamic situation, it’s fluid — they take into account their experience with the subject at the beginning, the middle, the end. They try to — a reasonable police officer — tries to predict or is at least cognizant and concerned about future behavior, based upon past behavior. But the unpredictability of humans factors into the reasonable police officer’s analysis, too, because sometimes people take — reasonable police officers — take someone into custody with no problem, and suddenly they become a problem. It can change in an instant.

In his closing argument so far, defense lawyer Eric Nelson is hyperfocused on what happened before George Floyd was pinned to the pavement: “Not a single use-of-force expert that testified, not a single police officer who testified, said that any thing up until this point was unlawful or unreasonable.” But the case hinges on what happened next.

A large part of his strategy is to divert attention away from the nine minutes and 29 seconds that Chauvin was on Floyd. Dwelling on that time period “is not the proper analysis,” Nelson says.

The defense lawyer, Eric Nelson, is showing three different views of officers trying to get George Floyd into the back of a squad car. “A reasonable police officer understands the intensity of the struggle,” he says, noting that Derek Chauvin’s badge and body camera were knocked off.

If the prosecutors are pointing to the video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd and asking jurors to believe their eyes, Nelson is focusing on the videos of Floyd struggling to get into the car and asking jurors to believe their eyes that Floyd is resisting.

In opening statements in the trial of Derek Chauvin, a prosecutor showed a photograph of two $20 bills that had the same serial number, suggesting that they were counterfeit.
Credit…Still image via Court TV

The last three weeks of the Derek Chauvin trial provided jurors with a comprehensive understanding of George Floyd’s final moments, pieced together from hours of video and witness testimony. But there is one part of the case that lawyers for both sides have spent little time on: the $20 bill that brought the police to the scene in the first place.

Mr. Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer accused of killing Mr. Floyd on May 25, was one of four officers who took part in the arrest, which began when a clerk for the Cup Foods convenience store called 911 to report that Mr. Floyd had used a fake $20 bill to buy cigarettes.

In opening statements, a prosecutor showed jurors a photograph of two $20 bills that had the same serial number, suggesting that they were counterfeit. One of the bills was ripped in two, a sign that the other one may have been the bill that Mr. Floyd used to buy cigarettes, though prosecutors did not discuss the photograph in more detail.

“The police officers could have written him a ticket, and let the courts sort it out,” Jerry W. Blackwell, the prosecutor, told jurors during opening statements.

In his closing arguments for the prosecution, Steve Schleicher again brought up the reason for the arrest. “This was a call about a counterfeit $20 bill,” he said. “All that was required was some compassion.”

Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric J. Nelson, has spent little time discussing the bill, in what could be a sign that he believes it would be unproductive to link Mr. Chauvin’s response to Mr. Floyd’s supposed offense. Instead, he has focused on Mr. Floyd’s actions after the police arrived.

The Minneapolis Police Department has also said little about the bill since its initial report in May, which noted that police officers had been responding to a “forgery in progress.” A spokesman for the department referred questions about the bill to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the state agency that led the investigation into Mr. Floyd’s death. Officials at the agency declined to answer several questions about the bill, saying they could not discuss evidence while a court case was ongoing and an investigation remained open.

Christopher Martin, the teenage clerk who accepted the $20 bill from Mr. Floyd, testified on the third day of the trial that he quickly recognized it as fake because it had an unusual blue pigmentation.

Video

transcript

transcript

Cup Foods Worker Shares ‘Guilt’ Over Taking George Floyd’s Fake Bill

Christopher Martin, a teenage store clerk, testified on Wednesday about his encounter with George Floyd in the minutes proceeding his death. Mr. Martin said he felt guilt and regret for taking Mr. Floyd’s counterfeit bill.

“I’m going to pause here for a moment. The record should reflect 8:29:55. We saw you standing there with your hands on your head for a while, correct?” “Correct.” “What was going through your mind during that time period?” “Disbelief and guilt.” “Why guilt?” “If I would have just not taken the bill, this could have been avoided.”

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Christopher Martin, a teenage store clerk, testified on Wednesday about his encounter with George Floyd in the minutes proceeding his death. Mr. Martin said he felt guilt and regret for taking Mr. Floyd’s counterfeit bill.CreditCredit…Court TV still image, via Associated Press

Mr. Martin, 19, said a friend of Mr. Floyd’s had come in earlier and also tried to use a fake $20 bill but was rebuffed. Mr. Martin said he thought Mr. Floyd, unlike his friend, had not realized that the bill was fake. “I thought I’d be doing him a favor” by accepting it, Mr. Martin said.

He testified that he told a manager at the store about the fake bill and that the manager told him to ask Mr. Floyd to come back inside. When Mr. Floyd twice refused, the manager had another employee call 911. Mr. Martin said he later felt “disbelief and guilt” that his actions had led to the police confrontation with Mr. Floyd.

Nearly a year after Mr. Floyd’s death, it remains unclear where the bill came from and whether Mr. Floyd committed the crime that brought police officers to the scene.

Eric Nelson, the defense lawyer, characterizes what George Floyd was doing while struggling to get into the squad car as “active resistance” to the police officers trying to arrest him. The prosecution said Floyd wasn’t able to comply, because he was anxious and claustrophobic.

It’s really hard to know what the jury will make of this argument — in the clip that the defense is showing to demonstrate active resistance, Floyd is already saying, “Please,” and, “I can’t breathe.”

Eric Nelson, the defense lawyer, tells jurors that the case is about more than the nine minutes and 29 seconds that Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd. Here we see the central tension in the case: For prosecutors, it’s all about the video (“Believe your eyes!”), and the defense needs to make it much more complicated than that.

Defense lawyer Eric J. Nelson presenting his closing statement to the jury on Monday.
Credit…Still image, via Court TV

Eric J. Nelson, a lawyer for Derek Chauvin, presented his closing argument on Monday morning after taking just two days to present Mr. Chauvin’s case, calling on seven witnesses. The prosecution, meanwhile, called 38 witnesses over 11 days.

Here is a look at those the defense called to the witness stand:

  • Barry Brodd, an expert on the use of force, who testified that Mr. Chauvin acted within the bounds of normal policing when he knelt on Mr. Floyd for nine minutes 29 seconds and that his actions did not constitute a “use of force” at all. His testimony contradicted that of several witnesses called by the prosecution, including the chief of the Minneapolis Police Department.

  • Dr. David Fowler, a former chief medical examiner of Maryland, testified Wednesday that Mr. Floyd’s death could be attributed to his drug use, heart condition and possible carbon monoxide poisoning from the exhaust pipe of the police car. He said the cause of Mr. Floyd’s death, which had been deemed a homicide by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner, was “undetermined.”

  • Nicole Mackenzie, the medical support coordinator for the Minneapolis Police Department, was originally called to testify for the state but was asked to return for the defense. During her testimony, she agreed with Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer that a police officer could mistake gasping for air with breathing and that a hostile group of bystanders could make it more likely for a police officer to miss signs that a detainee was in distress.

  • Peter Chang, a Minneapolis Park Police officer, responded to the scene and was asked to watch Mr. Floyd’s car. As he did that, he said, he became concerned for the safety of the officers who were interacting with Mr. Floyd. “The crowd was becoming more loud and aggressive,” he said. He testified that the bystanders were aggressive enough to make him fear for the other officers’ safety.

  • Shawanda Hill, an associate of Mr. Floyd’s who was sitting in the back seat of the car when he was first approached by officers and arrested, testified that he kept falling asleep in the parked car and that she tried to rouse him as police officers approached the vehicle.

  • Scott Creighton, a retired Minneapolis police officer, worked for the department for 28 years, including 22 years as a street-level narcotics investigator. He testified about an incident on May 6, 2019, a traffic stop during which a passenger, whom he identified as Mr. Floyd, was not responsive to his commands.

  • Michelle Moseng, a former paramedic at Hennepin County Medical Center Emergency Medical Services, also testified about the 2019 traffic stop. She said she was summoned to the police precinct to care for Mr. Floyd after he had been arrested. That day, she said, Mr. Floyd told her he had been taking some form of opioid “multiple, every 20 minutes” and another as the officers approached. She recommended that he be transported to a hospital based on his elevated blood pressure.

Here’s a kind of obscure point that has been bugging me: The defense threw a curveball when it suggested that carbon monoxide poisoning from the squad car tailpipe contributed to George Floyd’s death. But it didn’t come up during testimony whether the officers would be culpable for holding Floyd down near the tailpipe. Now Nelson is saying that the safety of the person being arrested is supposed to be one of an officer’s considerations.

Eric Nelson, the lawyer for Derek Chauvin, urged jurors in his closing statements to presume that Mr. Chauvin is innocent and then compare what he described as conflicting facts in the prosecution’s case that Mr. Chauvin killed George Floyd.

You can’t come in and say, George Floyd, on the one hand, ‘George Floyd died of asphyxiation, but he had a 98 percent oxygen level.’ All right? His blood is oxygenated. Then it is stands to reason, the opposite is true as well. You can’t come in and say, ‘I can conclusively prove that Mr. Floyd didn’t have carbon monoxide in his blood because he had this high oxygen saturation.’ You test one statement against the evidence of other people, and you compare it. That is what you, as jurors, are obligated to do. And what I am asking you to do, compare the evidence against itself, test it, challenge it, compare it to the law, read the instructions in their entirety. Start from the point of the presumption of innocence and see how far the state can get. I submit to you that the state has failed to meet its burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.





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