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Prosecution, defense in Derek Chauvin trial wrap up closing arguments; jury deliberating

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UPDATE (4:30 p.m.)

MINNEAPOLIS (KTIV) — The Derek Chauvin trial is now in the hands of the jury following closing arguments on Monday.

The prosecution and defense each delivered closing arguments Monday, followed by a rebuttal by the prosecution.

The prosecution was first, hoping to convince the jury that Chauvin squeezed the life from George Floyd as he and two other officers pinned him to the street for 9 minutes, 29 seconds, outside a corner market.

Prosecutor Steve Schleicher said Derek Chauvin "had to know" he was squeezing the life out of George Floyd as the Black man cried out over and over that he couldn't breathe.

Prosecutors say those actions, despite Floyd's repeated cries that he couldn't breathe, were reckless, unreasonable and warrant conviction not just for manslaughter but also on two murder counts.

"You as jurors are not required, nor should you leave your common sense at the courthouse steps," prosecutor Steve Schleicher said. "As jurors you must rely on your common sense. That's why you're here."

"You're not required to accept nonsense," Schleicher continued. "You're not required to accept the notion that after the defendant, kneeling on Mr. Floyd for 9 minutes and 29 seconds, in the dangerous prone position, handcuffed, restrained, pressing down on him, that after that, as he was writhing in pain and suffering, that that's not even a use of force."

Defense attorney Eric Nelson told the jury, "I submit to you that the state has failed to meet its burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt." He began his closing argument by emphasizing that "the defendant does not have to prove his innocence… He starts at the presumption of innocence."

Nelson went on to build on the judge's definition of "proof beyond a reasonable doubt," saying that it is the highest standard in the law. Nelson said, "As you analyze the evidence in this case, you would simply have to find that any defense that has been advanced was unreasonable. that's what this standard is all about."

Nelson argued that no crime was committed if Chauvin's actions were a reasonable use of force as authorized by law.

"The standard is not what should the officer have done in these circumstances," Nelson said. It's not what could the officer have done differently in these circumstances. The standard is what were the facts known to this officer at the precise moment that he used force, and considering all of the totality of circumstances and facts known to the officer… what would a reasonable police officer have done?"

Nelson focused on Floyd's actions in the minutes before Chauvin knelt on Floyd's body. He showed body-cam footage of those moments.

"The state has really focused on the 9 minutes and 29 seconds," he said. "That's not the proper analysis because the 9 minutes and 29 seconds ignores the previous 16 minutes and 59 seconds. It completely disregards it."

Nelson said, "At the precise moment Mr. Floyd was laid on the ground, a reasonable police officer would know about those 17 minutes. A reasonable police officer would know about the struggle. A reasonable police officer would consider the suspect's reactions to the previous use of force. A reasonable police officer would continue this process of reassessment and a reasonable police officer would consider whether to use an additional level of force to overcome the suspect's level of resistance."

Prosecuting attorney Jerry Blackwell began his rebuttal by pointing to a "46th witness" he said was "common sense."

"I'm going to start talking to about what I call the 46th witness. You've actually have heard from 45 witnesses on the stand, but there is a 46th witness," Blackwell said. "This witness was testifying to you before you got here into the courtroom…and the only witness that will be talking to you when you're back in deliberation. And that witness, ladies and gentlemen, is common sense. Common sense."

Blackwell wrapped up the rebuttal saying "Mr. Floyd died because his heart was too big. You heard that testimony. And now have seen all of the evidence and heard all of the evidence, you know the truth. And the truth of the matter is, that the reason George Floyd is dead, is because Mr. Chauvin's heart was too small."

Jury deliberations began at approximately 4 p.m. CT.

After Judge Peter Cahill released the jurors, Nelson motioned for a mistrial saying he was concerned by the possibility of jurors watching or reading reports during the trial. He pointed to recent comments by US Rep. Maxine Waters.

The Democrat from California was in Brooklyn Center on Saturday and spoke to several reporters.

"We're looking for a guilty verdict and we're looking to see if all of the talk that took place and has been taking place after they saw what happened to George Floyd," Waters said. "If nothing does not happen, then we know that we got to not only stay in the street, but we have got to fight for justice."

When Waters was asked what protestors should do if there is a not guilty verdict, she said "We got to stay on the street."

"And we've got to get more active, we've got to get more confrontational. We've got to make sure that they know that we mean business," she said.

After saying he was aware of statements by Congresswoman Waters, Cahil said, "I wish that elected officials would stop talking about this case, especially in a manner that is disrespectful to the rule of law. And to the judicial branch and our function."

Cahill said that he trusted the jurors to follow his instructions to not watch the news and denied the motion for mistrial.

Chauvin is facing charges 2nd-degree murder, 3rd-degree murder and 2nd-degree manslaughter.

Jury selection started on March 9. The prosecution began its case March 29 and wrapped on April 13. The defense presented its case from April 13 to April 15. There were 45 witnesses called.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


PREVIOUS (12 p.m.)

MINNEAPOLIS (KTIV) — A prosecutor says Derek Chauvin "had to know" he was squeezing the life out of George Floyd as the Black man cried out over and over that he couldn't breathe.

Closing arguments began at Chauvin's murder trial.

The prosecution was first, hoping to convince the jury that Chauvin squeezed the life from George Floyd as he and two other officers pinned him to the street for 9 minutes, 29 seconds, outside a corner market.

Prosecutors say those actions, despite Floyd's repeated cries that he couldn't breathe, were reckless, unreasonable and warrant conviction not just for manslaughter but also on two murder counts.

"You as jurors are not required, nor should you leave your common sense at the courthouse steps," prosecutor Steve Schleicher said. "As jurors you must rely on your common sense. That's why you're here."

"You're not required to accept nonsense," Schleicher continued. "You're not required to accept the notion that after the defendant, kneeling on Mr. Floyd for 9 minutes and 29 seconds, in the dangerous prone position, handcuffed, restrained, pressing down on him, that after that, as he was writhing in pain and suffering, that that's not even a use of force."

The prosecution finished it's closing arguments late Monday morning. The defense started it's closing arguments shortly after.

Chauvin is facing charges 2nd-degree murder, 3rd-degree murder and 2nd-degree manslaughter.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


PREVIOUS (9 a.m.)

MINNEAPOLIS (NBC News) - Watch live coverage of the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

KTIV App Users: Follow this link to watch the trial on KTIV.com.

Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020, death of George Floyd.

Warning: This stream may include images and audio some viewers may find upsetting or disturbing.

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