Updated: April 27, 2020 07:03 PM
Created: April 27, 2020 11:45 AM
Former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor, who was convicted of killing Justine Ruszczyk Damond in 2017, should receive a new trial because the court violated his constitutional right to a public trial and prevented him from explaining his actions, his attorneys argued in his appeal.
According to court documents, Thomas Plunkett and Peter Wold filed the arguments Friday in appellate court. They add that there was insufficient evidence to convict Noor of third-degree murder and the court wrongly allowed prosecutors to present two expert witnesses who provided similar testimony.
"This case arises from a perfect storm that resulted in a tragedy," they wrote. "And one tragedy led to another when Mohamed Noor was deprived of the opportunity to explain why that tragedy was not a crime."
Noor appealed his conviction last July and is currently serving 12.5 years in prison.
After the trial lasted about a month, jurors convicted the 34-year-old last April of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for shooting Damond.
Noor was responding to Damond's 911 call about a possible sexual assault behind her south Minneapolis home on July 15, 2017, when he shot the 40-year-old from the passenger seat of his police car. His partner, Matthew Harrity, was in the driver's seat and did not fire his weapon.
Noor’s attorneys argued that through decisions made by Hennepin County District Judge Kathryn Quaintance, who was not named, the court violated Noor’s constitutional right to a public trial. Quaintance presided over the trial.
They argued: The court held an off-the-record scheduling conference on Sept. 14, 2018, that "evolved into a substantive discussion of pending motions," "ordered and accepted” nonpublic exhibits early in the case when considering Noor’s motion to dismiss the charges, relied on letters from the public and “other materials" at his sentencing, and issued four orders sealing jurors' names.
"In a case with intense public interest the district court habitually shut the door pervasively, persistently and improperly," Noor’s defense wrote, adding that a different judge should preside over the new trial.
Last June, Ruszczyk’s family received the largest police settlement in Minneapolis history, in the amount of $20 million.
Meanwhile, Noor has been moved to an out-of-state prison, and his location is not being disclosed to protect his safety.
To see the full court filing by Noor's attorneys, click here.
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