• Wed. Jun 23rd, 2021

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Prosecutors seek 30-year sentence for Derek Chauvin; defense requests probation

Prosecutors have asked a judge to sentence Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer convicted in the murder of George Floyd, to 30 years in prison.

In a sentencing brief filed Wednesday, prosecutors cite the trial judge’s ruling last month that there were four aggravating factors in Floyd’s murder.

Judge Peter Cahill said in a six-page opinion last month that prosecutors had proven that Chauvin had abused his position of trust and authority, treated Floyd with particular cruelty, acted in concert with at least three other people and committed his crime in the presence of children.

The ruling paved the way for Cahill to sentence Chauvin to more than 15 years in prison, the longest punishment for second-degree murder under state sentencing guidelines. Cahill agreed with all but one of the aggravating factors prosecutors cited when they asked for what is known as an upward departure.

Prosecutors wrote in the brief that at Chauvin’s sentencing June 25, “the Court should take the next step and hold that each of these aggravating factors” is grounds for imposing a sentence two times the upper end of the presumptive sentencing range.

Chauvin, who is white, knelt on Floyd’s neck for 9½ minutes. He was convicted in April of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Floyd’s death was captured in a harrowing video by a 17-year-old bystander, who testified at Chauvin’s trial. The video prompted international protests against police brutality and racial injustice.

Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, asked in a separate brief filed Wednesday for a downward departure from sentencing guidelines or a sentence of probation with time served.

“Mr. Chauvin asks the Court to look beyond its findings, to his background, his lack of criminal history, his amenability to probation, to the unusual facts of this case, and to his being a product of a ‘broken’ system,” Nelson wrote.

Nelson argued in the sentencing brief that, among other things, Chauvin obeyed all court orders after he posted bond and was released from jail before trial.

Nelson also claimed that Chauvin “has been preliminarily diagnosed with heart damage” and that he might die at a younger age, like many ex-law enforcement officers.

“Independent of the long-term damage a prison sentence would inflict upon Mr. Chauvin’s life prospects, given his age, convictions for officer-involved offenses significantly increase the likelihood of him becoming a target in prison,” Nelson wrote.

Legal experts have said Chauvin is unlikely to get more than 30 years.

After Chauvin’s conviction, he and the three other officers involved in Floyd’s arrest — J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao — were indicted on federal charges of violating Floyd’s civil rights. A second indictment from the Justice Department also charged Chauvin with depriving a 14-year-old boy of his civil rights during an encounter in September 2017, in which he is accused of holding the boy by the throat and striking his head multiple times with a flashlight.

Kueng, Lane and Thao are due to stand trial in March.