Crime EXPLAINER: Could mask hamper ex-officer's image with jurors?
EXPLAINER: Ex-officer on trial for Floyd death won't testify
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The former Minneapolis police officer charged with murder in George Floyd’s death said Thursday that he won't testify in his own defense, invoking his right to remain silent and leave the burden of proof on the state. It was a high-stakes decision. Taking the stand could have helped humanize Derek Chauvin to jurors who haven't heard from him directly at trial, but it could also have opened him up to a devastating cross-examination.
The face mask that former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin has been required to wear during his trial in George Floyd's death has hidden his reaction to testimony, including any sympathy or remorse that legal experts say can make a difference to jurors.
Because coronavirus concerns have forced Chauvin and other participants to wear masks except when they're addressing the court, the enduring image of the defendant throughout the trial has been his impassive expression from last May as he gazed at the teenager filming his knee pinning Floyd's neck. The girl, who captured the encounter on her cellphone, called Chauvin's stare “cold" and "heartless."
The judge in the Derek Chauvin case is orchestrating one of the nation’s most widely watched murder trials. Meet Peter Cahill.
While Judge Peter Cahill allowed cameras in the courtroom for the first time in Minnesota state history, he's also been strict on other matters.That is exactly where Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill finds himself in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, entering its sixth week and bringing daily controversy and scrutiny to every step taken in the courtroom.
Prosecutors havethe image in the courtroom, and Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo alluded to the white former officer's facial expression as he explained why he by kneeling on the Black man's neck for an extended period.
Legal experts say the image — and the challenge of replacing it in jurors' minds with Chauvin's reactions during trial — could hamper the defense.
EXPLAINER: Courtroom technology on display in Chauvin trial
CHICAGO (AP) — The foundation of the case against the former Minneapolis police officer charged with killing George Floyd is a mountain of video evidence, but presenting that to jurors isn't as easy as pushing play. Over and over, prosecutors have shown video from surveillance cameras, bystanders’ cellphones and police body and dash cameras, and have asked witnesses to annotate footage or photographs and narrate the action on screen. LargeOver and over, prosecutors have shown video from surveillance cameras, bystanders’ cellphones and police body and dash cameras, and have asked witnesses to annotate footage or photographs and narrate the action on screen.
“Every trial has a hero and a villain,” said Ryan Pacyga, a defense attorney who has been following the trial. “He looks like a villain.”
Trial lawyers, who have long practiced the art of courtroom dramaturgy, send subtle hints to jurors about a defendant through their looks and body language. They say it's important because it humanizes the defendant.
“You’ve got to find a way for the jury to care for them,” Pacyga said.
But thehow the trial works.
HOW DO JURORS SEE CHAUVIN?
The question was important to Chauvin's defense before the trial even began. His defense attorneyswho had already formed strong opinions about the former officer. But jurors have watched video of Floyd's arrest and heard from witnesses who expressed strong feelings about Chauvin.
“He didn’t care. It seemed as if he didn’t care what we were saying,” said 18-year-old Darnella Frazier, one of several witnesses who testified through tears.
Defense set to take turn in ex-cop's trial in Floyd death
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The defense for a former Minneapolis police officer charged in George Floyd's death was set to start presenting its case Tuesday, following 11 days of a prosecution narrative that combined wrenching video with clinical analysis by medical and use-of-force experts to condemn Derek Chauvin's actions. Prosecutors called their final witnesses Monday, leaving only some administrative matters before they were expected to rest Tuesday. Once the defense takes over, Chauvin attorney Eric Nelson is expected to have his own experts testify that it was Floyd's drug use and bad heart, not Chauvin's actions, that killed him.
Chauvin didn't appear to show any emotion during the videos or testimony as he scribbled notes on a notepad. But it also would be difficult to see if he was affected because the bottom half of his face is hidden behind a face mask.
“I wonder if watching these videos causes him some pain and agony? I don’t know,” said Joseph Daly, emeritus professor at Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota.
WHY IS A DEFENDANT'S REMORSE IMPORTANT?
Research by legal scholars has shown that defendants who appear to show remorse may have an advantage with juries.
“People who look more angry are more likely to be viewed as being a criminal,” said Kim MacLin, a professor at the University of Northern Iowa who specializes in psychology and law.
She conductedthat found jurors in a mock trial were more likely to acquit if they saw an image of the defendant that seemed remorseful. Other research has deciding whether to sentence someone to death are more lenient when a defendant seems to show remorse.
“It is something that juries, by human nature, think about. What sort of person are we dealing with here?” said Susan Bandes, an emeritus professor at DePaul University College of Law.
EXPLAINER: Why is 'excited delirium' cited at Chauvin trial?
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The attorney for the former Minneapolis police officer on trial in George Floyd ’s death revisited the disputed concept of excited delirium Tuesday in an effort to show that the force Derek Chauvin used was objectively reasonable given Floyd's resistance. Chauvin, 45, who is white, is charged with murder and manslaughter. Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, was arrested outside a neighborhood market on May 25, accused of trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill. A panicky-sounding Floyd struggled and claimed to be claustrophobic as police tried to put him in a squad car.
She noted that Chauvin already has a “remorse deficit" due to his actions during Floyd's arrest, adding, “That look on his face as captured in the video is so powerful."
Defense attorneys often try to cast defendants in a positive way by making sure they are wearing a suit that fits, getting them to smile at breaks in proceedings or asking their family or friends to appear in the courtroom.
Chauvin's defense attorney usually touches him on the shoulder when he's introduced to the jury at the beginning of each day, when Chauvin is also allowed to briefly take his mask off.
Daly said it's a way for the attorney to send a subtle message to jurors: “I'm not afraid of this guy.”
WILL CHAUVIN TESTIFY?
Legal experts say that Chauvin's defense attorney has a lot to weigh in deciding whether to put Chauvin on the stand, but one factor could be showing a different side to the former officer. Witnesses are allowed to take their masks off while they testify.
Pacyga, the defense attorney, said as he thinks the defense's strategy could be headed towards having Chauvin testify, especially if they feel there is a chance of getting him acquitted of the charges.
“You’ve got to get this jury in Chauvin’s shoes in some way, shape or form,” he said. “Otherwise he looks like the most callous person in the world.”
Find AP’s full coverage of the death of George Floyd at: https://apnews.com/hub/death-of-george-floyd
This story corrects the capitalization in MacLin.
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