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Crime EXPLAINER: Prosecution explores Floyd's 'spark of life'

00:50  13 april  2021
00:50  13 april  2021 Source:   msn.com

Derek Chauvin trial: A week of emotional and potentially devastating testimony surrounding George Floyd's death

  Derek Chauvin trial: A week of emotional and potentially devastating testimony surrounding George Floyd's death Pain, trauma and regret spilled out from a Minneapolis courtroom during a first week of critical testimony in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer who knelt on the neck of George Floyd. © Pool Minneapolis Police Lt. Richard Zimmerman said Chauvin's actions after Floyd was handcuffed and in a prone position were "uncalled for" and "totally unnecessary." The week concluded with potentially devastating testimony from the police department's most senior officer, who called Chauvin's actions on the day of Floyd's death "totally unnecessary.

Philonise Floyd , who has frequently occupied the Floyd family’ s sole seat in the socially distanced courtroom, was allowed to testify under a legal doctrine called “ spark of life .” He told the jury about how they grew up poor in Houston’ s Third Ward, his brother’ s passion for sports, his marginal cooking skills and Philonise Floyd said his brother was a leader in the family and in their neighborhood. His pride was evident when the prosecution showed juror a photo of his brother in uniform for the South Florida College basketball team. “He used to make the best banana mayonnaise sandwiches,” he recalled

What is the “ Spark of life ” doctrine? The doctrine emerged in 1985 when a defendant accused of killing a police officer argued to the Minnesota Supreme Court that the prosecutor prejudiced the jury with a speech about the officer’ s childhood, his parents and his marriage. The court ruled that prosecutors can present evidence that a murder victim was “not just bones and sinews covered with flesh, but was imbued with the spark of life . The prosecution has some leeway to show that spark and present the victim as a human being as long as it is not an attempt to invoke any undue sympathy

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Prosecutors trying a white former Minneapolis police officer in George Floyd’s death put one of Floyd’s brothers on the witness stand Monday in a further effort to humanize him for the jury and counter the defense narrative that Floyd was at least partially responsible for his own death due to his use of illegal drugs.

In this image from video, Philonise Floyd, brother of George Floyd, becomes emotional as he testifies as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides over court Monday, April 12, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, in the May 25, 2020, death of George Floyd at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. (Court TV via AP, Pool) © Provided by Associated Press In this image from video, Philonise Floyd, brother of George Floyd, becomes emotional as he testifies as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides over court Monday, April 12, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, in the May 25, 2020, death of George Floyd at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. (Court TV via AP, Pool)

Philonise Floyd, who has frequently occupied the Floyd family's sole seat in the socially distanced courtroom, was allowed to testify under a legal doctrine called “spark of life.” He told the jury about how they grew up poor in Houston’s Third Ward, his brother's passion for sports, his marginal cooking skills and how he was devastated by his mother's death.

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What is the “ Spark of life ” doctrine? The doctrine emerged in 1985 when a defendant accused of killing a police officer argued to the Minnesota Supreme Court that the prosecutor prejudiced the jury with a speech about the officer’ s childhood, his parents and his marriage. The court ruled that prosecutors can present evidence that a murder victim was “not just bones and sinews covered with flesh, but was imbued with the spark of life . The prosecution has some leeway to show that spark and present the victim as a human being as long as it is not an attempt to invoke any undue sympathy

The prosecution team are calling its final witnesses in the case against Derek Chauvin. A cardiologist tells the murder trial the victim George Floyd had a strong heart. Mr Chauvin was filmed kneeling on Mr Floyd for over nine minutes during Mr Floyd ' s arrest last May. Prosecutors will then bring to the stand so-called " Spark of Life " witnesses who can describe who Floyd was as a person. Floyd ' s brother and a family friend are expected to speak to the court today. Once the prosecution rests, Chauvin's defence lawyer Eric Nelson will begin making his case.

In this image from video, Philonise Floyd, brother of George Floyd, testifies as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides over court Monday, April 12, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, in the May 25, 2020, death of George Floyd at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. (Court TV via AP, Pool) © Provided by Associated Press In this image from video, Philonise Floyd, brother of George Floyd, testifies as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides over court Monday, April 12, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, in the May 25, 2020, death of George Floyd at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. (Court TV via AP, Pool)

The defense didn't use Philonise Floyd's appearance to discuss George Floyd's drug use. That contrasted with earlier spark of life testimony from George Floyd's girlfriend, Courteney Ross, who told the jury how they both struggled with addiction to opioids.

In this image from video, Philonise Floyd, brother of George Floyd, testifies as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides over court Monday, April 12, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, in the May 25, 2020, death of George Floyd at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. (Court TV via AP, Pool): George Floyd Officer Trial © Provided by Associated Press George Floyd Officer Trial

Chauvin, 45, is charged with murder and manslaughter. Prosecutors say he knelt on Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes, 29 seconds, pinning the handcuffed man to the ground. The most serious charge — second-degree murder — carries up to 40 years in prison.

Minneapolis officers line up to reject Chauvin's actions

  Minneapolis officers line up to reject Chauvin's actions MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The parade of Minneapolis police officers rejecting a former officer’s actions in restraining George Floyd continued at his murder trial, including a use-of-force instructor who said officers were coached to “stay away from the neck when possible.” Lt. Johnny Mercil on Tuesday became the latest member of the Minneapolis force to take the stand as part of an effort by prosecutors to dismantle the argument that Derek Chauvin was doing what he was trained to do when he put his knee on George Floyd’s neck last May.

His death sparked days of protests in Minneapolis and around America. The complaint provided no details about intoxicants. Floyd ’ s family and attorneys, like the families of other black men killed by police, commissioned their own autopsy because they didn’t trust local authorities to produce an unbiased report. The family's autopsy was done by Michael Baden and Allecia Wilson. Baden is the former chief medical examiner of New York City, and was hired to do an autopsy of Garner, a black man who died in 2014 after New York police placed him in a chokehold and he pleaded that he could not

Bystander video of Floyd , pinned by Chauvin and two other officers as he cried “I can’t breathe” and eventually grew still, sparked protests and scattered violence around the U.S. Chauvin attorney Eric Nelson argues that Floyd ’ s death was caused by drug use and underlying health conditions including a bad heart. He’s expected to call his own medical experts after the prosecution wraps its case, expected early this week. Nelson hasn’t said whether Chauvin will testify. Testimony will resume after an evening of unrest in Brooklyn Center, a suburb just north of Minneapolis, following the death of a

WHAT IS THE “SPARK OF LIFE” DOCTRINE?

The doctrine emerged in 1985 when a defendant accused of killing a police officer argued to the Minnesota Supreme Court that the prosecutor prejudiced the jury with a speech about the officer’s childhood, his parents and his marriage. The prosecutor became so emotional the trial court had to take a recess.

The court ruled that prosecutors can present evidence that a murder victim was “not just bones and sinews covered with flesh, but was imbued with the spark of life."

“It remains very odd in the law — I don’t think any other state would allow this kind of thing,” said Ted Sampell-Jones, a professor at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law. “Criminal lawyers around the country are really quite astounded that this sort of testimony is allowed in Minnesota. But it is allowed under current law, and the prosecution is using that to its advantage.”

Chauvin defense seeks to shift talk to Floyd drug use

  Chauvin defense seeks to shift talk to Floyd drug use Defense attorneys for former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin on Wednesday sought to make George Floyd's drug use a focal point of the eighth day of Chauvin's murder trial.The day featured a back-and-forth over whether Floyd, who died last May after Chauvin knelt on top of him for almost nine minutes, said he "ain't do no drugs" or "ate too many drugs" as he was pinned to the ground.The defense also zeroed in on the potential influence bystanders at the scene had on Chauvin during the arrest, as well as the defendant's knee placement on Floyd while he was being detained.

Bystander video of Floyd , pinned by Chauvin and two other officers as he cried “I can’t breathe” and eventually grew still, sparked protests and scattered violence around the U.S. Chauvin attorney Eric Nelson argues that Floyd ’ s death was caused by drug use and underlying health conditions including a bad heart. “At the beginning, you can see he’s conscious, you can see slight flickering, and then it disappears,” Tobin said as he highlighted a still image from police body-camera video. “That’s the moment the life goes out of his body.” Nelson sought to raise doubt about the prosecution ’s case.

Bystander video of Floyd , pinned by Chauvin and two other officers as he cried “I can't breathe” and eventually grew still, sparked protests and scattered violence around the U.S. Chauvin attorney Eric Nelson argues that Floyd ' s death was caused by drug use and underlying health conditions including a bad heart. He's expected to call his own medical experts after the prosecution wraps its case, expected early this week. Nelson hasn't said whether Chauvin will testify.

WHAT DID THE JURY LEARN FROM PHILONISE FLOYD?

Philonise Floyd said his brother was a leader in the family and in their neighborhood. His pride was evident when the prosecution showed juror a photo of his brother in uniform for the South Florida College basketball team.

“He used to make the best banana mayonnaise sandwiches,” he recalled, explaining: “George couldn’t cook. He couldn’t boil water.”

Jurors were riveted and focused on Philonise Floyd as he talked about his brother. At least one juror appeared charmed and nodded as he described how his older brother used to constantly measure himself because he wanted to be taller.

In this image from video, Philonise Floyd, brother of George Floyd, testifies as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides over court Monday, April 12, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, in the May 25, 2020, death of George Floyd at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. (Court TV via AP, Pool) © Provided by Associated Press In this image from video, Philonise Floyd, brother of George Floyd, testifies as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides over court Monday, April 12, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, in the May 25, 2020, death of George Floyd at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. (Court TV via AP, Pool)

But Philonise Floyd became tearful as he told the jury about his brother's deep pain over his mother's death in 2018. “He loved her so dearly,” he recalled, but his brother was not able to get back to Houston before she died.

Expert: Lack of oxygen killed George Floyd, not drugs

  Expert: Lack of oxygen killed George Floyd, not drugs MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — George Floyd died of a lack of oxygen from the way he was held down by police, a retired forensic pathologist testified Friday at former Officer Derek Chauvin's murder trial. The testimony of Lindsey Thomas, who retired in 2017 from the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's office in Minneapolis, bolstered the findings of other experts on Thursday who rejected the defense theory that Floyd’s drug use and underlying health problems killed him.

“It hurt him a lot,” he said. "And when we went to the funeral, it’s just, George just sat there at the casket, over and over again. He would just say, ‘Mama, Mama,’ over and over again. And I didn’t know what to tell him because I was in pain, too. We all were hurtin’ and he was just kissing her and just kissing her. He didn’t want to leave the casket.”

In this image from video, Philonise Floyd, brother of George Floyd, becomes emotional as he testifies as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides over court Monday, April 12, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, in the May 25, 2020, death of George Floyd at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. (Court TV via AP, Pool) © Provided by Associated Press In this image from video, Philonise Floyd, brother of George Floyd, becomes emotional as he testifies as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides over court Monday, April 12, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, in the May 25, 2020, death of George Floyd at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. (Court TV via AP, Pool)

But he smiled when he was shown a picture of George Floyd with his daughter, who he said is now 7.

WHAT DID THE JURY LEARN FROM ROSS?

Ross told jurors earlier how she and George Floyd both struggled with opioid addiction throughout their relationship, which began in 2017. "We both suffered from chronic pain. Mine was in my neck and his was in his back.” She said they “tried really hard to break that addiction many times.”

In this image from video, prosecutor Steve Schleicher questions Philonise Floyd, brother of George Floyd, as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides over court Monday, April 12, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, in the May 25, 2020, death of George Floyd at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. (Court TV via AP, Pool) © Provided by Associated Press In this image from video, prosecutor Steve Schleicher questions Philonise Floyd, brother of George Floyd, as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides over court Monday, April 12, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, in the May 25, 2020, death of George Floyd at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. (Court TV via AP, Pool)

When Chauvin's defense attorney Eric Nelson cross-examined Ross, he pushed her hard on Floyd's drug use, including how he was hospitalized in 2020 for what she believed was a heroin overdose. All of that allowed Nelson to repeatedly remind the jury that Floyd was a drug user.

Inside Cup Foods, where it seems George Floyd never left

  Inside Cup Foods, where it seems George Floyd never left Thanks to videos taken inside and outside the Cup Foods store in South Minneapolis, its aisles and customers are now known around the world. It's linked forever to the death of George Floyd and racial injustice in the United States. Yet Cup Foods is still open for business, selling batteries, a pack of gum or a bag of spinach.Once inside, you see the aisle where Floyd chatted with another customer and staff before asking to buy a pack of cigarettes. It's a scene that was replayed in court in the trial of the man accused of killing him, former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin.

In this image from video, defense attorney Eric Nelson questions Dr. Jonathan Rich, a cardiologist, as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides over court Monday, April 12, 2021,  in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis. Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. (Court TV via AP, Pool) © Provided by Associated Press In this image from video, defense attorney Eric Nelson questions Dr. Jonathan Rich, a cardiologist, as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides over court Monday, April 12, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis. Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. (Court TV via AP, Pool)

Floyd's cause of death has been a key issue. The defense has argued that Floyd’s death was caused by his drug use, underlying health conditions and the adrenaline flowing through his body. An autopsy found fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system, though a series of prosecution experts testified that drugs did not kill Floyd.

In this image from video, defense attorney Eric Nelson, left, and defendant, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, right, listen Monday, April 12, 2021, as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides over motions in the trial of Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis. Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. (Court TV, via AP, Pool): George Floyd Officer Trial © Provided by Associated Press George Floyd Officer Trial

DID IT BACKFIRE?

In this image from video, defense attorney Eric Nelson, left, discusses motions before the court as defendant, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, right, and Nelson's assistant Amy Voss, back, listen, Monday, April 12, 2021, as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides over the trial of Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis. Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. (Court TV, via AP, Pool): George Floyd Officer Trial © Provided by Associated Press George Floyd Officer Trial

Not on Monday. Prosecutor Steve Schleicher did not ask Philonise Floyd about what he knew, if anything, about his brother's drug use, and Nelson opted not to cross-examine him at all, so the brother spent only about 15 minutes on the witness stand.

Sampsell-Jones said the prosecution was careful to avoid eliciting any testimony that would have opened the door to evidence about George Floyd's criminal record, which the judge has kept out of the trial.

“On balance, it helps the prosecution — it humanizes Floyd and plays on the jury’s sympathies," Sampsell-Jones said. "It is a good way for the prosecution to close its case.”

Mary Moriarty, a former chief public defender for Hennepin County, said spark of life testimony “can backfire if the jury believes that the state is trying to manipulate their emotions. In this case, I don’t think it will.”

EXPLAINER: Judge lets jury decide Floyd's remark about drugs

  EXPLAINER: Judge lets jury decide Floyd's remark about drugs MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The judge overseeing the trial of a former Minneapolis police officer in the death of George Floyd said Monday that he'll leave it up to the jury to sort out whether Floyd yelled “I ate too many drugs” or “I ain’t do no drugs” as three officers pinned him to the ground. Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill made the ruling as attorneys argued over whether to allow the testimony of a use-of-force expert for the prosecution, Seth Stoughton, a professor at the University of South Carolina Law School. Prosecutors wanted him to testify from an academic perspective on whether Chauvin used reasonable force and about national policing standards.

In this image from video, witness Courteney Ross answers questions as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides Thursday, April 1, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. (Court TV via AP, Pool) © Provided by Associated Press In this image from video, witness Courteney Ross answers questions as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides Thursday, April 1, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. (Court TV via AP, Pool)

Moriarty also said that the jury at this point knows more about George Floyd than it ever would have learned about most defendants.

In this image from video, witness Courteney Ross answers questions as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides Thursday, April 1, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. (Court TV via AP, Pool) © Provided by Associated Press In this image from video, witness Courteney Ross answers questions as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides Thursday, April 1, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. (Court TV via AP, Pool)

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Find AP’s full coverage of the death of George Floyd at: https://apnews.com/hub/death-of-george-floyd

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.

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