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Derek Chauvin trial: Jury could be seated Tuesday, as court seeks one more alternate

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“However long it takes … because we only need the one,” Cahill said. “Twelve or bust.

If a final juror is picked Tuesday, the court is expected to recess until Monday, when opening statements are scheduled to begin. The development comes after two weeks of jury selection, which began March 9 — a day later than scheduled because of a legal dispute over a third-degree murder charge. The charge was later reinstated.

Roughly 70 people have been questioned during the process of seating a jury in the landmark case that has drawn national attention and continues to inspire intense and conflicted emotions in a city where many remain traumatized by Floyd’s death and the civil unrest that followed.

Few jurors summoned in the case arrived without some knowledge of the events surrounding Floyd’s death. And almost all admitted to having a “negative” view of Chauvin, the White police officer filmed with his knee on the Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes during a police investigation last May as the Black man complained of struggling to breathe and ultimately died.

Just days into jury selection, Minneapolis officials announced a record $27 million settlement with Floyd’s family — a development that led Cahill to dismiss two jurors after they said they could no longer be impartial because they had read or heard media coverage of the deal.

But the court quickly replaced them, and went on to pick seven more — a faster pace than many involved in the case had expected.

Cahill had set aside three weeks for jury selection, with the option to extend it. The court also summoned a larger than usual pool of prospective jurors — about 326 people, according to numbers Chauvin’s defense team provided in a court filing last week.

So far, the seated jury is more diverse than many expected from Hennepin County, where the population is about 80 percent White. The 14 seated jurors include one Black woman, two multiracial women, two White men, three Black men and six White women.

Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s attorney, asked the judge last week to delay and move the trial, saying he was “gravely concerned” that news of the Floyd family settlement had tainted the jury pool. But Cahill agreed with prosecutors who pointed to the steady pace of jury selection as proof that pretrial publicity, including news of the settlement, had not harmed Chauvin’s right to a fair trial.

Nelson has argued that jurors won’t be able to put the news out of their minds, even if they swear under oath that they are able to do so, because most already view Chauvin in a negative light.

In a court filing made public Friday, Nelson said two-thirds of the 326 potential jurors summoned in the case said they had a “negative” opinion of his client on a questionnaire the court distributed months before the settlement announcement. He said more than half the jury pool expressed a “neutral” view of Floyd.

Of the 14 jurors seated in the case so far, only one said he had not seen all or some of the viral video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck. Eight of the 14 said they had heard about the $27 million settlement. All said they could put what they knew of the case aside and judge Chauvin based on facts presented in court.

Floyd was killed May 25 after being handcuffed and restrained face down on a south Minneapolis street during a police investigation of a counterfeit $20 bill that allegedly had been passed at a local market.

Chauvin faces charges of second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Three other officers charged in the case — J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas K. Lane and Tou Thao — are set to be tried separately in August.

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