Former U.S. Attorney explains what's ahead in Derek Chauvin's sentencing | KSTP.com

Former U.S. Attorney explains what's ahead in Derek Chauvin's sentencing

Callan Gray
Updated: April 20, 2021 11:12 PM
Created: April 20, 2021 10:46 PM

On Tuesday, Derek Chauvin was convicted of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The jury deliberated for about 10 hours. 

"Typically in a case, a rule of thumb for any seasoned litigator is you account for one day of deliberations for each week of receipt of evidence," said Erica MacDonald, a former U.S. Attorney for Minnesota. "I expected it would come Wednesday or beyond. The fact that it came in on Tuesday spoke to all of us it's a pro-prosecution verdict.

MacDonald said, however, she wasn't surprised the jury came to a decision so quickly despite the length of the trial. The jury listened to testimony from more than 40 witnesses over the course of nearly three weeks. 

"They were really living with it," MacDonald said. "While they couldn't discuss it with their family members, with their fellow jury members, they had been thinking about it the entire time. They've had three weeks to digest each and every piece of evidence and then come together as a group where they could discuss it in full."

MacDonald also previously served as a district court judge for Dakota County and has experience working with juries. 

"Even though they know they did the right thing, they came to their conclusion based on the evidence and the applicable law, it's still a somber moment to stand in judgment of a fellow citizen," she said.  "It's going to take some time to process … The weight of the world was on their shoulders and I'm sure they felt it and my hope is they can just take some time now to breathe."

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5 EYEWITNESS NEWS Reporter Callan Gray was the pool reporter in the courtroom last Thursday and reported seeing the jurors engage in conversation with one another. 

"To see them interacting that way is a good sign they'll be respectful of each other's opinions and thoughts," MacDonald said. "Each individual juror has to have their own convictions, their own beliefs and feel comfortable saying that among the 12 jurors." 

The sentencing is expected to take place in eight weeks. Chauvin will be sentenced on the highest of the three counts, second-degree murder. According to our legal experts, it typically carries about 12.5 years in prison based on state guidelines.

Prosecutors, however, are seeking an upward sentencing departure. The maximum sentence for the charge is 40 years in prison. 

Chauvin waived his right to have a jury determine the sentence, instead, Judge Peter Cahill will make the decision.

"The factors will be outlined by the prosecution themselves," MacDonald said. "The prosecution is seeking that aggravated sentence. They'll outline the factors upon which they are relying to get that aggravated sentence. Defense attorney [Eric Nelson] likewise will have the opportunity to dispute those."

MacDonald said Derek Chauvin will likely appeal his conviction, which she said is part of the process in every case. 

Former officers Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao have been charged with aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter. 

"Each one of those officers, although they were present at the same time, really had a different role in a different spot," MacDonald said. "Each one is entitled to his own trial and so this verdict has no impact of that."


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