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Third-Degree Murder Count Added to George Floyd’s Accused Killer

March 11, 2021, 2:57 PM

George Floyd’s accused killer will face an extra murder charge, the presiding judge ruled Thursday.

Judge Peter Cahill restored a third-degree count against former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin, following a reversal from the Minnesota Court of Appeals on March 5. He originally refused to reinstate the charge in late 2020.

Now, Chauvin faces three charges—second-degree murder, manslaughter, and third-degree murder. Adding the third-degree charge gives jurors a middle ground between second degree murder, which would require prosecutors to prove the death was the result of another felony, and manslaughter, which carries a lower penalty.

The case will continue with jury selection now that the third-degree murder count has been added. Five jurors have been selected so far. The appeals court March 10 rejected a request from the state to halt the case until the additional murder count issue had been addressed.

Footage of then-officer Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck May 25 prompted calls to hold him and other officers on the scene—who are slated to be tried later this year—criminally responsible.

The maximum penalty for the second-degree murder charge is 40 years, with a 10-year maximum for the manslaughter charge. The state sentencing guidelines for both charges are much lower, with an average of 12.5 years and four years, respectively. The third-degree murder charge falls in the same guidelines range as the second-degree murder charge but carries a lower potential maximum of 25 years.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ayanna Alexander in Washington at aalexander@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Childers at achilders@bloomberglaw.com

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