Judge denies motion to delay Chauvin trial

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is escorted from the rear of the Hennepin County Family Justice Center by a law enforcement officer after a court hearing on Sept. 11, 2020, in Minneapolis.
David Joles | Star Tribune via AP 2020

A Hennepin County judge on Thursday ordered that the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin will go on as scheduled in March.

Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the killing of George Floyd last May.

Prosecutors had argued the trial should be pushed back a few months because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their motion included affidavits from health professionals who warned that holding a trial this spring was risky.

However, Judge Peter Cahill ruled that Chauvin will go on trial starting on March 8.

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Prosecutors had also argued against a prior ruling by Cahill that separated Chauvin's trial from those of Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane, the three other former police officers facing aiding and abetting charges in connection with Floyd's death. Cahill's order Thursday also rejected that motion.

Cahill said in his prior order that the physical limitations of the largest available courtroom “make it impossible to comply with COVID-19 physical restrictions in a joint trial.”

Attorney General Keith Ellison had argued that the cases have similar evidence, and that separate trials "may retraumatize eyewitnesses and family members and unnecessarily burden the State and the Court while also running the risk of prejudicing subsequent jury pools."

Lane, Kueng and Thao are set to stand trial starting Aug. 23.