The former Minneapolis police officer imprisoned for killing Justine Ruszczyk in 2017 is appealing his third-degree murder conviction to the Minnesota Supreme Court. The case could have implications for the upcoming trial of Derek Chauvin, one of the four former Minneapolis police officers charged in the May 25 killing of George Floyd.
In a split decision, the Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld Mohamed Noor's conviction, ruling this month that the third-degree murder charge applies even though Noor fired his gun at a specific person.
The charge is often used against drug dealers in overdose deaths where the defendant didn't single out a particular victim.
In their petition to the state's highest court, Noor's attorneys argue that the appellate decision is inconsistent with legal precedent as well as the statute’s plain language. Noor was sentenced in June 2019 to 12 1/2 years in prison. Jurors also convicted him of second-degree manslaughter, a lesser charge, but acquitted him of the most serious count, second-degree intentional murder.
If the justices disagree with Noor’s arguments, prosecutors in the Chauvin case may have an easier time convincing the court to reinstate a third degree murder count against Chauvin. Such a move could delay Chauvin’s trial, which is set to begin with jury selection on March 8.
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