Chauvin guilty of murder and manslaughter in Floyd's death

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U.S. National Guard members stand guard near the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., the United States, on April 20, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of two counts of murder and one count of manslaughter over the death of George Floyd, the judge presiding over the high-profile trial announced Tuesday, reading the jury's verdict.

Right after judge Peter Cahill announced the verdict, which came after the 12-member jury was sequestered Monday afternoon and deliberated for about 10 hours, Chauvin, who listened in the courtroom, was handcuffed and taken into custody by the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office.

The jurors found Chauvin, a white man, guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, all three counts he was charged with over the killing of black man Floyd. Chauvin pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.

Chauvin would face presumptive prison sentences of 12.5 years for the second-degree murder charge, 12.5 years for the third-degree murder charge, and four years for the second-degree manslaughter charge, according to Minnesota sentencing guidelines.

Since Chauvin has no previous criminal record, he would avoid the maximum sentence for each of the three charges, which is 40 years for second-degree murder, 25 years for third-degree murder, and 10 years for second-degree manslaughter. Prosecutors, though, said they will seek a harsher sentence.

Cahill revoked Chauvin's bail after the conviction and said the defendant will be sentenced "eight weeks from now."

"This case is a turning point in American history for accountability of law enforcement and sends a clear message we hope is heard clearly in every city and every state," Ben Crump, an attorney for Floyd's family, said in a statement.

President Joe Biden, in a phone call with Floyd's family that Crump recorded and posted on Twitter, pledged to accomplish meaningful police reform and told them that "nothing is going to make it all better, but at least now there's some justice."

Vice President Kamala Harris, who was also on the phone call, said: "We are going to make something good come out of this tragedy." Biden and Harris are expected to give remarks on the verdict later in the evening.

Biden said earlier in the day that he was praying for the "right verdict," comments that immediately drew concerns over possible intervention by elected officials into the highly publicized trial. The White House said Biden didn't intend to influence the trial's outcome.

Between now and the day when the sentencing is announced, according to Cahill, the court would look at written arguments from Chauvin "within one week" and issue factual findings on it, according to Cahill.

Then the court will order a pre-sentencing investigation report, "returnable in four weeks," followed by a briefing on the pre-sentencing investigation report six weeks from now, Cahill said.

It was not immediately clear whether Chauvin's attorney, Eric Nelson, would appeal. But if he does so, he could base his argument on the potential improper influence of extensive media coverage of the case and the trial, or more particularly, the influence of public comments by politicians, including those incendiary ones by Democratic congresswoman Maxine Waters over the weekend that Nelson claimed were "threatening and intimidating."

Waters urged protesters to be more "confrontational" if Chauvin was acquitted in the trial, comments that led to calls from Congressional Republicans for her to be censured. Just before the verdict was released, the Democratic-controlled House voted along party lines to table a vote on a resolution to censure Waters.

Once the defense attorney files an appeal, a state court of appeals would review the case and make the final decision, or it could send the case back to trial for additional proceedings. The defense could also request the Minnesota Supreme Court review the case. 

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