The shooting of Justine Ruszczyk and trial of former officer Mohamed Noor

Ex-cop Noor appeals his 3rd-degree murder conviction to Minn. Supreme Court

Police Shooting-Minneapolis
Former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor listens to victim impact statements during his sentencing hearing with his lawyers Peter Wold, left, and Thomas Plunkett at the Hennepin County District Court in June 2019 in Minneapolis, before being sentenced by Judge Kathryn Quaintance in the 2017 fatal shooting of Justine Ruszczyk Damond.
Leila Navidi | Star Tribune via AP, Pool 2019

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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