Roughly half of jury seated, murder charge reinstated in Derek Chauvin trial

Derek Chauvin Trial

The plaza outside the the Hennepin County Government Center is empty, Thursday, March 11, 2021, in Minneapolis, as the trial for former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin continues with jury selection. Chauvin is charged with murder in the death of George Floyd during an arrest last may in Minneapolis. AP Photo/Jim Mone)

MINNEAPOLIS (NewsNation Now) — Jury selection in the trial of a former Minneapolis police officer charged in the death of George Floyd resumes for a fourth day Friday.

Six jurors have been selected so far for the trial of Derek Chauvin, who’s now being tried for third-degree murder in addition to his other charges.

Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill restored the third-degree murder charge at the start of Thursday’s proceedings, after rejecting it as not warranted by the circumstances of Floyd’s death in an earlier ruling. An appellate court ruling in an unrelated case established new grounds, and Chauvin failed to get the courts to block the charge.

The city of Minneapolis agreed to pay $27 million to settle a civil lawsuit from Floyd’s family over his death Friday, as jury selection continues in the trial.

Chauvin already faced second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in Floyd’s death, after the then-officer, who’s white, pressed his knee against the 46-year-old Black man’s neck for about nine minutes last May.

The reinstatement of a third-degree murder charge was a victory for state prosecutors, who had sought the additional lesser murder charge in part to afford them an extra path to a conviction should the jury find the evidence does not support the most serious charge.

Second-degree murder carries a sentence of up to 40 years in prison, while third-degree murder carries a sentence of up to 25 years in prison.

Cahill told potential jurors after the ruling that he still expects opening statements to begin on March 29.

Just one juror was seated on Thursday, a man who said he has a “very negative” impression of Chauvin but told attorneys he could set that aside and consider the evidence in the case.

The man wrote on his questionnaire that he had seen the widely viewed bystander video of Floyd “desperately screaming that he couldn’t breathe” even as other officers stood by and bystanders shouted that Chauvin was killing him.

Yet asked whether he could set his opinions aside and stick to the evidence presented in court, he replied: “I’m willing to see all the evidence and everything, hear witnesses.”

So far, the jury panel includes five men and one woman. Three of those seated are white, one is multiracial, one is Hispanic and one is Black, according to Judge Cahill.

The judge is seeking to seat 12 jurors and up to four alternatives.

Several candidates have been dismissed over the past few days, including a woman who said she “can’t unsee the video” of Chauvin pinning Floyd, and a man who said he has doubts about Black Lives Matter and the way the group pursues its goals.

At least three weeks have been set aside to complete a jury of 12 plus two alternates. Potential jurors’ identities are being protected and they are not shown on livestreamed video of the proceedings.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report. Reporting by AP’s Steve Karnowski and Amy Forliti, and Reuters’ Jonathan Allen and Gabriella Borter.

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