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Alternate juror recounts Derek Chauvin trial, the testimony that 'was so powerful to me'

Minyvonne Burke and Gabe Gutierrez and Doha Madani
·3 min read
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Lisa Christensen was an alternate juror in Derek Chauvin's trial but said she agrees that the former Minneapolis police officer is guilty of murder in George Floyd's death. She would have voted guilty, she told NBC News.

"I felt he was guilty on a certain level but I wasn't sure to what level," Christensen said.

Chauvin was convicted Tuesday of second- and third-degree murder, as well as second-degree manslaughter. The 12-person jury delivered the unanimous verdict following three weeks of witness testimony.

Under Minnesota law, Chauvin would serve no more than 40 years in prison.

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Christensen lives in Brooklyn Center, where Daunte Wright was fatally shot by police April 11.

Christensen said that the jury took their roles very seriously and "felt a sense of a lot responsibility" and "wanted to get it right." Floyd's death May 25, captured on cellphone video, sparked protests around the country and the world.

But, for Christensen, the prosecution made a strong argument and the witnesses offered by the defense seemed less credible. She found testimony given by Dr. Martin Tobin, a world-renowned expert on breathing, particularly memorable.

"I understood everything he said, I thought it might be over my head cause it was you know medical, but what was so powerful to me is he pointed out when Mr. Floyd actually lost his life," She said. "Like pointed it right down to that minute, explaining like this is the point where he's having that seizure and now he's not breathing anymore."

Tobin testified that, by his calculation, he believes 91.5 pounds — half of Chauvin's body weight and half the weight of his gear — were on Floyd's neck at one point.

Tobin's testimony combined with the video evidence was what impacted Christensen. Prior to the trial, Christensen said she had never watched the entire video of Floyd's arrest. She said seeing it, especially from different angles, upset her.

"It almost seemed like halfway through the video, something should have been done for sure," she said. "Like there was a crisis after the four minute mark pretty much. We need to do something, this guy is in trouble."

She also did not believe Chauvin's lack of testimony would have made a difference in the case. Christensen said she felt the prosecution made a strong case and that Chauvin "would have incriminated himself even further."

Christensen reflected on how she made eye contact with Chauvin several times during the trial, saying it made her uncomfortable.

"We just kind of locked eyes at some point a couple of times throughout the trial and you know he wasn't trying to mean anything by it it just it was a thing," she said. "And it was a little weird, a little strange. I looked away as soon as I could."