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The judge in Derek Chauvin’s trial ruled that there were four aggravating factors in George Floyd’s death, paving the way for a harsher sentence on the convicted murderer.
Judge Peter Cahill said prosecutors demonstrated ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ that Chauvin abused a position of trust and authority, treated Floyd with particular cruelty, committed the crimes with children present, and committed his crimes as a group with participation active of at least three other people.
Cahill said Chauvin was particularly cruel as the black man was ‘begging for his life and obviously terrified by the knowledge that he was likely to die’ as the white cop knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes. .
All four aggravating factors allow Cahill to exceed normal sentencing guidelines in determining Chauvin’s prison sentence next month.
However, the court’s ruling, filed Tuesday and released Wednesday, doesn’t necessarily mean he will, and legal experts say Chauvin is unlikely to be more than 30 years old.
Disgraced police officer Chauvin, 45, was convicted of second degree murder, third degree murder and second degree murder in a state trial in Minneapolis on April 20.
He will be sentenced on June 25 after the court delayed him from its initial date of June 16.
Although he was convicted of three counts, under Minnesota law, Chauvin will only be sentenced to the most serious count of second-degree murder.
The maximum sentence for this charge is 40 years in prison.
However, for someone without a criminal record like Chauvin, Minnesota’s sentencing guidelines say the presumed sentence is 12 1/2 years.
Cahill could sentence him to as little as 10 years and eight months or up to 15 years and still remain within this range of guidelines.
But prosecutors called for what’s known as an upward exit, arguing that there were five aggravating factors during Floyd’s death that mean Chauvin should be punished with a harsher sentence.
Cause of Death
Cahill agreed that Chauvin abused his position of trust and authority as a Minneapolis police officer when he restrained Floyd in the prone position on the ground causing his death.
He cited several reasons that showed that Chauvin had treated Floyd with particular cruelty, including the “slow death” of the black man and the “prolonged nature of his suffocation.”
“It was particularly cruel to kill George Floyd by slowly preventing him from breathing when Mr. Floyd had already made it clear that he had trouble breathing,” he wrote.
‘George Floyd’s slow death that occurred for about six minutes from his positional suffocation was particularly cruel in the sense that Mr. Floyd was pleading for his life and obviously terrified by the knowledge that he was likely to die, but during which the accused remained objectively indifferent to Mr. Floyd’s pleas.
On the factor of the children’s presence, the judge ruled that there were three 17-year-olds and a 9-year-old boy present when Floyd died, who “witnessed the last moments of Mr. Floyd’s life.”
The 9-year-old testified at the trial, saying that seeing Floyd’s restraint and death made her “sad and a little angry.”
The fourth factor names Thomas Lane, 38, J Alexander Kueng, 27, and Tou Thao, 35, to determine that Chauvin committed his crime as a group with his fellow officers.
Cahill writes that the motion does not determine whether the active participation of the other three officers present at the scene was “accompanied by the intention and knowledge necessary to establish that they are” criminals “subject to criminal responsibility.”
The other three officers await trial together in August and have not yet been convicted of any crime.
Cahill disagreed with the prosecution on a fifth aggravating factor, ruling that it had not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Floyd was particularly vulnerable.
On this factor, the judge wrote that Floyd’s drug intoxication did not make him particularly vulnerable compared to other murder victims.
Derek Chauvin, Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane .They were all indicted on federal hate crimes charges
The Minnesota Attorney General’s Office also wants to add a count of complicity in third-degree murder in each of its cases.
Floyd, 46, died on May 25 after Chauvin pinned him to the ground with one knee to his neck, even as Floyd, who was handcuffed, repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe.
Kueng and Lane also helped contain Floyd: State prosecutors have said Kueng knelt on Floyd’s back and Lane held onto Floyd’s legs.
State prosecutors say Thao held passersby and prevented them from intervening during the nine-and-a-half-minute restriction.
All four officers were charged with federal hate crimes on Friday, charged with intentionally violating Floyd’s civil rights when he died under Chauvin’s knees last May.
Each of them was accused of failing to provide Floyd with medical care during his fatal arrest outside a convenience store.
Chauvin is also accused of violating Floyd’s right to be free from unreasonable force by a police officer, and Thao and Kueng are accused of failing to intervene to stop Chauvin from using unreasonable force.
Chauvin was also charged in a second indictment, for a 2017 incident in which he knelt on the neck of a 14-year-old black boy for nearly 17 minutes and allegedly hit him repeatedly on the head with a flashlight.
This is the first time the convicted murderer has faced charges for this incident. The 14-year-old man involved in that incident has not been identified.
If convicted of these federal charges, the four disgraced officers could face the federal death penalty or life in prison.
A federal sentence would be served at the same time as the state sentence.
Peter Cahill Quicks and Facts
- Judge Peter Cahill said in a court ruling Tuesday that prosecutors proved ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ four aggravating sentencing factors
- Chauvin abused a position of trust and authority, treated Floyd with particular cruelty, and committed the offenses with children present
- He also committed his crimes as a group with at least three other people
- Cahill said Chauvin was particularly cruel as Floyd was ‘begging for his life and obviously terrified by the knowledge that he was likely to die’ under his knee
- The four aggravating factors allow Cahill to go above the normal guidelines when sentencing Chauvin on June 25
- He ruled against one factor that Floyd was particularly vulnerable
- Chauvin, 45, was convicted of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, at a state trial in Minneapolis on April 20
- He faced 40 years for second-degree murder but sentencing guidelines recommend 12 1/2 years for someone with no criminal record