The attorney for Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis policeman convicted of the murder of George Floyd, said in a court filing that his client should not go to prison or be sentenced to far less than the maximum sentence.
Chauvin is scheduled to be sentenced June 25 to as many as 40 years in prison for the May 25, 2020, death of Floyd, who died after more than nine minutes with his knee pinned to his neck in an arrest attempt. He was convicted in April of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.
Minnesota sentencing guidelines suggest that he received 10-15 years behind bars. However, Judge Peter Cahill found "aggravating factors" that would allow him to sentence Chauvin to more than the guidelines suggest. Those factors include committing a crime in front of a child, acting with cruelty, abusing his position, and disregarding Floyd's pleas that he could not breathe.
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"No sentence can undo the damage [Chauvin's] actions have inflicted. But the sentence the Court imposes must hold [Chauvin] fully accountable for his reprehensible conduct," said a prosecution memo, according to CBS News.
But Chauvin's defense attorney, Eric Nelson, replied in his filing that when sentencing, Cahill should look to the former officer's "background, his lack of criminal history, his amenability to probation, to the unusual facts of this case, and to his being a product of a 'broken' system.
"In spite of his mistakes, Mr. Chauvin has demonstrated that he has a capacity for good and that he has the discipline to consistently work toward worthwhile goals," the memo says. Nelson also cited Chauvin’s diagnosis of heart damage and likeliness to die at a younger age and that he is more likely to fall victim to violence in prison because he had been law enforcement.
In addition, if Chauvin is not sentenced to probation, Nelson said that Cahill should sentence him to a shorter term than the suggested guideline because he did not realize he was committing a crime during the arrest.
"Mr. Chauvin's offense is best described as an error made in good faith reliance [sic] his own experience as a police officer and the training he had received — not intentional commission of an illegal act," Nelson said in the memo.
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In a separate filing on Wednesday, Chauvin’s defense team argued that they believe he should receive a new trial, claiming errors on the part of the judge and prosecutors along with broad publicity prior to the state trial, according to CBS News.
Chauvin appeared in federal court on Tuesday (June 1) to face civil rights violation charges in connection with Floyd’s murder. In May he was indicted on federal charges along with the three other officers, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao, who will face a state trial on aiding and abetting charges next year.