Chauvin told the judge — before the jury returned to the courtroom — that it was his decision and his decision alone. It was one of the rare times the public heard from the ex-cop, who didn’t display any emotion as he scribbled on a notepad during nearly three weeks of testimony.
“If you were to try to think about all the different ways in which he could answer the question that’s burning on the jury’s mind … Why didn’t you just get off of George Floyd’s neck? Why didn’t you render aid?” CNN senior legal analyst Laura Coates said of the defendant.
“Remember, all of his potential responses will actually be the opposite of the testimony they’ve already seen — from law enforcement experts, from his own police chief, from experts who talk about the notion to have to render aid even if somebody is in your custody.”
Still, Coates added, that Chauvin “essentially was his last and best and perhaps only hope” to confront the “mountain of evidence” against him.
“Of offering an explanation, if not, a justification for what he did, which could be enough to plant some — not only seed of reasonable doubt in a juror’s mind — but some seed of empathy,” she said.
After Chauvin invoked the Fifth, the defense rested its case in the closely watched trial. The jury will be sequestered during deliberations next week.
“If I were you, I would plan for long and hope for short,” Judge Peter Cahill told jurors. “Basically, it’s up to the jury how long you deliberate, how long you need to come to a unanimous decision on any count.”
Chauvin, 45, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges.
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.
Here are highlights from the final week of testimony:
Pulmonologist takes the stand a second time
Dr. David Fowler, who retired as Maryland’s chief medical examiner at the end of 2019, introduced a novel defense argument: Carbon monoxide from the squad car’s exhaust may have contributed to Floyd’s death. Fowler admitted no data or test results could back up his claim.
Tobin, in a short rebuttal, told the jury the carbon monoxide theory is proven wrong by a different blood test that showed Floyd’s blood oxygen saturation was 98%. That meant his carbon monoxide level could at most be 2% — within the normal range.
Defense puts forth three-prong legal strategy
At the heart of defense attorney Eric Nelson’s case is the argument that medical reasons, not Chauvin’s actions, caused Floyd’s death that evening. In other words, Floyd’s use of methamphetamine and fentanyl, his initial resistance to officers and preexisting heart…