Derek Chauvin is on trial for George Floyd's death

By Mike Hayes, Melissa Mahtani and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 0406 GMT (1206 HKT) April 16, 2021
5 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
10:53 a.m. ET, April 15, 2021

Chauvin chooses not to testify

Pool
Pool

Defense attorney Eric Nelson just explained to his client that he has the right to testify at the trial. Derek Chauvin just said that he will invoke the Fifth Amendment and not testify.

Here was their exchange:

Nelson: Have you made a decision today, whether you will attempt to testify, or whether you intend to invoke your Fifth Amendment right? 

Chauvin: I will invoke my 5th amendment privilege today. 

The judge then asked Chauvin if the decision was his. He said it was.

See the moment:

10:11 a.m. ET, April 15, 2021

SOON: Testimony will resume in the trial of Derek Chauvin

The 14th day of testimony is set to begin soon in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

Chauvin is charged with second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd, who died in May 2020 after Chauvin placed his knee on Floyd's neck while he pleaded, "I can't breathe."

Yesterday, Maryland's former chief medical examiner testified for Chauvin's defense that Floyd died due to his underlying heart disease — not the police restraint.

That testimony cuts at the prosecution's argument, bolstered by five separate medical experts, that the primary cause of death was Chauvin's restraint of a handcuffed Floyd in the prone position — known as "positional asphyxia." To get a guilty verdict, prosecutors have to prove that Chauvin's actions were a "substantial causal factor" in Floyd's death.

9:39 a.m. ET, April 15, 2021

A witness said carbon monoxide may have contributed to Floyd’s death. Another expert says that's "ludicrous."

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas

The idea that carbon monoxide poisoning may have contributed to George Floyd’s death is “completely ludicrous,” Dr. Cyril Wecht, a forensic pathologist and attorney, said yesterday. 

Dr. David Fowler, the retired Chief Medical Examiner for the state of Maryland, testified in the trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin Wednesday, saying that carbon monoxide from the police car may have decreased Floyd’s ability to breathe.

 “I find that completely ludicrous,” Wecht told CNN’s Erin Burnett last night. “Carbon monoxide is produced by something that is burning smoke. To my knowledge, the car was not running.”

Wecht added that carbon monoxide poisoning can cause a “pinkish-red” discoloration of the body, which was not described in Floyd’s case. 

Watch:

8:31 a.m. ET, April 15, 2021

What we know about the jury in the Derek Chauvin trial

From CNN's Eric Levenson and Aaron Cooper

The jury in Derek Chauvin's trial has heard from multiple witnesses so far, and they've been shown bystander and police footage of George Floyd's final moments. 

If convicted, Chauvin could face up to 40 years in prison for second-degree murder, up to 25 years for third-degree murder, and up to 10 years for second-degree manslaughter. The charges are to be considered separate, so Chauvin could be convicted of all, some or none of them.

While the jurors are unnamed and not seen on camera, we do know basic details about them.

Here's what we know about the jury:

  • Five men and nine women were chosen to serve on the jury during the trial in Minneapolis. 
  • Of the 14 jurors, eight are White, four are Black and two are mixed race, according to how the court says the jurors identified themselves.
  • The jury selection process began March 9 at the Hennepin County Government Center and wrapped up exactly two weeks later. 
  • The panel is made up of 12 jurors and two alternates, Judge Peter Cahill said.
  • The jurors all come from Hennepin County, which is demographically about 74% White and 14% Black, according to census data.
  • The prospective jurors previously completed a 16-page questionnaire that asked for their personal thoughts on Black Lives Matter, policing and other topics.
  • In court, each person was sworn in and then questioned one-by-one in a process known as voir dire. The juror's name, address and other information are kept anonymous.
  • Eric Nelson questioned the prospective jurors for the defense, while Steve Schleicher questioned them for the prosecution.

Read more about about the jury here.

9:24 a.m. ET, April 15, 2021

A former medical examiner testified for Chauvin's defense yesterday. Here's what he said.

From CNN's Eric Levenson and Aaron Cooper

Maryland's former chief medical examiner testified for Derek Chauvin's defense on Wednesday that George Floyd died due to his underlying heart disease — not the police restraint.

"In my opinion, Mr. Floyd had a sudden cardiac arrhythmia, or cardiac arrhythmia, due to his atherosclerosis and hypertensive heart disease ... during his restraint and subdual by the police," said Dr. David Fowler, a forensic pathologist.

Floyd had narrowed coronary arteries, known as atherosclerosis, and an enlarged heart due to his high blood pressure, or hypertension, Fowler said. Floyd's fentanyl and methamphetamine use and a tumor known as a paraganglioma were other significant conditions that contributed to his death, he said.

Fowler also put forth a novel argument that carbon monoxide from the squad car's exhaust may have contributed to his death.

In all, he said Floyd's death should have been classified as "undetermined," rather than a homicide, because there were so many competing causes.

The testimony cuts at the prosecution's argument, bolstered by five separate medical experts, that Floyd's primary cause of death was Chauvin's restraint of a handcuffed Floyd in the prone position — known as "positional asphyxia." To get a guilty verdict, prosecutors have to prove that Chauvin's actions were a "substantial causal factor" in Floyd's death.

Watch: