By Churchill Umoren
Minnesota law originally defined third-degree murder solely as depraved-heart murder without intent to effect the death of any person, causing the death of another by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life. They later aded drug related deaths, when you sell to him, he ingests and dies.
Maximum sentence is 25 years in MN
Murder 3 is defined in just theee states, PA, FL, MN and NM
Second degree is murder resulting from an intentional assault meant to do harm – like armed robbery or rape or beating down someone. You meant to hurt but might not have planned to kill but death was still the result.
Murder in the second degree receives not more than 40 years imprisonment in Minnesota.
Murder 1, must have two elements: premeditation and intent . You planned it. Off the table in this case.
I get it why the prosecutors went for Murder 3/manslaughter( latter has element of negligence). Safest bet . I wouldn’t have though .
Fist off, the prelim autopsy released earlier today says there was no evidence of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation😳 Defense will argue that the kneel didn’t kill him but some pre existing conditions like HBP or coronary disease. With this strategy/ argument, the defense will shut the door to “ beyond a reasonable doubt”. You confuse the jury by sowing doubts. That is why you see hung jury or mistrial. Trials are always adversary.
I would have gone for Murder 2. It could be tricky during litigation. My argument would be he intended to hurt George, didn’t plan to kil, but he died anyway. I would say, laying on his chest and stomach obstructed breathing even though there was no forensic evidence of asphyxia. Don’t forget, in the charging documents, an officer said he felt for pulse and told his colleague, I can’t find one. But The killer cop remained on him for an extra 90 seconds. So, Murder 2 is appropriate.
Your opening statement and closing arguments would be key. My prof usually says let the jury see the video in slow motion. Print bold photos, be very graphic, let them see in HD the blood from his nose, the urine under the car, as he begged for his life, make the audio of his cries very loud, show them photos of him and his mum, his kids, his girlfriend. My prof will say ‘Humanize your client’ ,try to break a tear. Keep repeating remarks like ‘ Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, George didn’t need to die’ ‘ he didn’t want to die, George begged the officer for his life’. The prosecution must do these because they may not have a jury they desire, that is More likely to convict and recommend maximum sentence
I will push for 40 years because the cop has a prior however, during sentencing, there could be a problem. With Murder 3 where the max is 25, a bad jury ( full of racist elements) may recommend 5-10 years. So I would go for Murder 2 where you may not be able to wriggle out of a 20 year sentence with your counsel’s brilliant closing argument and mitigation.
Another thing you must look out for is jury selection. That is key. It is called voire dire. You look at him and background and say nope. Strike off. We will have more whites on that jury so Murder 3 is a safe place. Why? Check this out: White people currently account for 3/5 of the city’s population, mostly of German and Scandinavian descent. 23% of the population is German Americans (82,800), while the Scandinavian American population is primarily Swedish (8.5%) and Norwegian (10.9%). 😳😳😳