Derek Chauvin is on trial for George Floyd's death

By Melissa Macaya, Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes, Melissa Mahtani and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 10:10 PM ET, Tue April 13, 2021
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10:19 a.m. ET, April 13, 2021

The defense has focused on these 3 arguments so far to try to acquit Chauvin

From CNN's Eric Levenson and Aaron Cooper

Defense attorney Eric Nelson speaks during court proceedings on April 9.
Defense attorney Eric Nelson speaks during court proceedings on April 9. Court TV/Pool/AP

The defense is expected to begin calling its own witnesses on Tuesday.

Defense attorney Eric Nelson has not explicitly laid out who will testify, but the witnesses are likely to further the broad themes of his case to acquit former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin.

Chauvin, 45, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges.

In opening statements and cross-examinations, Nelson has focused on three main arguments:

  • George Floyd died of drug and health problems
  • Chauvin's use of force was ugly but appropriate
  • The crowd of bystanders became hostile and distracted Chauvin from taking care of Floyd

Witnesses called by the prosecution have contested each of those theories — but it will be up to the jury to ultimately decide.

While the trial has focused on Chauvin and Floyd, the societal stakes of the high-profile case were made vividly clear when police shot and killed a Black man Sunday in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center.

In light of the unrest, Nelson asked the court to question jurors further and sequester them for the rest of the trial. Judge Cahill rejected the request and said he plans to fully sequester the jury for deliberations next week. Jurors in the trial are currently partially sequestered, meaning they are released to go home each day.

8:54 a.m. ET, April 13, 2021

What we know about the jury in the 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.

8:56 a.m. ET, April 13, 2021

The prosecution's case against Chauvin came in 3 distinct phases

From CNN's Eric Levenson and Aaron Cooper

Prosecutor Steve Schleicher speaks during court proceedings on Monday, April 12.
Prosecutor Steve Schleicher speaks during court proceedings on Monday, April 12. Court TV/Pool/AP

After calling 38 witnesses over the course of 11 days, Minnesota prosecutors neared the end of their case against former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin.

The defense is expected to begin calling its own witnesses on Tuesday, and closing arguments are expected for next Monday, Judge Peter Cahill said in court.

Chauvin, 45, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges.

The prosecution's case against Chauvin came in three distinct phases:

  1. What happened to George Floyd last May
  2. The Minneapolis Police use-of-force policy
  3. The medical analysis of why Floyd died

On Monday, Philonise Floyd testified at Chauvin's trial that his elder brother George Floyd was a big mama's boy who was distraught by her death in 2018.

"It was so unique how they were with each other. He would lay up onto her in the fetus position like he was still in the womb," he said. "Being around him, he showed us how to treat our mom and how to respect our mom. He just — he loved her so dearly."

The heartfelt testimony came as prosecutors sought to humanize Floyd, the 46-year-old Black man who died last May.

Also on Monday, an expert cardiologist testified that Floyd died from cardiopulmonary arrest caused by low oxygen levels brought on by prone restraint and positional asphyxia — making him the fifth doctor to say as much in the trial. In addition, a police use-of-force expert testified that Chauvin's actions were unreasonable and excessive.

8:47 a.m. ET, April 13, 2021

The Chauvin trial resumes this morning. Here's what happened yesterday in court.

It is day 12 of testimony in the trial of former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin, who has been charged in the death of George Floyd.

The defense's portion of the trial will start today. Judge Peter Cahill said yesterday that he expects the presentation of evidence in the trial will be done "by the end of the week."

If you're just reading in, here's a recap of what happened yesterday in court:

  • George Floyd's brother testifies: Philonise Floyd offered a heartfelt testimony as prosecutors sought to humanize Floyd, the 46-year-old Black man who died last May after Chauvin kneeled on his neck and back for more than 9 minutes. He told the court that his elder brother George Floyd was a mama's boy and a loving person when they were growing up in Houston. During his testimony, prosecutors showed several photos of a smiling George Floyd with his mother, his basketball teammates and his young daughter. Philonise Floyd described his brother as an athlete and dedicated student of both basketball and football. "He was so much of a leader to us in the household, he would always make sure we had our clothes for school, make sure we would get to school on time," Philonise Floyd said. "He just was like a person that everybody loved around the community. He just knew how to make people feel better."
  • Cardiologist says Floyd died from cardiopulmonary arrest: Dr. Jonathan Rich, a cardiologist based in Chicago, testified that Floyd died from cardiopulmonary arrest caused by low oxygen levels brought on by prone restraint and positional asphyxia — making him the fifth doctor to say as much in Chauvin's trial.
  • Use-of-force expert says Chauvin's actions were unreasonable: Seth Stoughton, a use-of-force expert, former police officer and associate professor of law at University of South Carolina, said Chauvin's actions represented deadly force and were unreasonable. "Both the knee across Mr. Floyd's neck and prone restraint were unreasonable, excessive and contrary to acceptable police practices," Stoughton said. He added: "No reasonable officer would have believed that was an appropriate or acceptable use of force."
  • Judge expects closing arguments to start Monday: Cahill indicated that there may not be court Friday if there are no additional witnesses. The judge told the jurors he did not want to isolate them in a hotel over the weekend. "My preference is to give the attorneys more time to prepare their closing arguments and have the closing arguments, we predict, on Monday," he said. Cahill then told jurors: "Expect that when you report for duty on Monday that it be followed by sequestration. So, pack a bag."