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Esme Murphy Reflects On The Pace Of The Derek Chauvin Trial

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Esme Murphy was WCCO's daily reporter covering the Chauvin trial in George Floyd's death (5:18). WCCO 4 News - April 20, 2021

Video Transcript

- So Esme, we'd like to get to you. You were there for first day. You were there today for the verdict. Your thoughts.

ESME MURPHY: Well, first of all, this is just a remarkable victory for this prosecution team. I know from my sources there were doubts within the team itself that they would be able to get this kind of uniform verdict on all three counts. And they were worried about it. And they knew that if they didn't get all three counts, anything less than that would be seen as not enough of a victory redemption for George Floyd.

Now two of the stars of the prosecution team that you saw most on television, Steve Schleicher and Jerry Blackwell, both lawyers did this for free. Both are very well-known and very well-regarded. Steve Schleicher was actually the prosecutor that prosecuted the man that murdered Jacob Wetterling. And Jerry Blackwell is a very prominent civil attorney. But he has never done a criminal case before. This was his first one.

This is what they both had to say after the verdict.

- Is there--

STEVE SCHLEICHER: I'm honored to have stood with the Floyd family, to have stood with the state of Minnesota as we go through this painful process together. And it's been my privilege to practice with this incredible, incredible gifted trial team.

JERRY BLACKWELL: No verdict can bring George Perry Floyd back to us. But this verdict does give a message to his family, that he was somebody, that his life mattered, that all of our lives matter.

ESME MURPHY: And those two key stars in the prosecution team, a team that Keith Ellison said he put together that was basically all Michael Jordans. I think what's also interesting about this prosecution case is that everything we knew they had was just heightened by maybe 10, 15, 20, maybe even 50% in the courtroom. The videos, it wasn't just Darnella Frazier's videos. It was all of the videos combined, all of the different angles. We didn't realize going into this that they had all those videos.

The witnesses, we knew the eyewitnesses were there. We knew they'd be good. But they weren't just good, they were great. And then we knew that the police officers would testify. We knew the chief would be coming in and saying, this was not a lawful use of force. This was something that the police officer should not have done. But we didn't know that all of those officers would come in and testify that way.

So the prosecution really did an amazing job of enhancing that which they already had, enhancing it to a point where this jury obviously felt this was pretty clear cut. Because they did not deliberate very long.

- Yeah, because they had the burden of proof. What did you think about Judge Cahill and his, I don't want to say performance, but in the courtroom?

- Well, you know, I think he did a very good job under very difficult circumstances. And I think, quite frankly, I think we are going to be hearing for this case for some time to come. There, obviously, are going to be appeals. And there are going to be appeals-- I am sure Eric Nelson is probably drafting up an appeal on the grounds that he had asked for this jury to be sequestered at the beginning during jury selection, back when the city of Minneapolis announced that $27 million verdict or 20 million-- $27 million settlement for George Floyd's family.

Eric Nelson wanted-- felt it was so prejudicial, he wanted the jury sequestered at that point. Well Judge Cahill didn't do that. And what happened? Well, no one could have foreseen it. But you did have the tragedy of Daunte Wright. And then you also had statements by Maxine Waters, the Congresswoman from California, that the judge himself acknowledged yesterday could be grounds for overturning this case on appeal.

Congresswoman Waters saying the people had to be more confrontational if the verdict did not go the way that she wanted it to go. And it did go the way she wanted it to go. But I think we're going to be hearing about that. But that's kind of getting beyond this moment. I mean, this moment really is extraordinary. And there was so much second guessing of this prosecution team. They were second guessing themselves.

Many people thought they had too many prosecutors. They seemed disorganized. They didn't seem ready. They keep-- they kept asking for delays. I don't know if you remember that. But they kept asking for delay after delay. And they didn't get it. So I think people thought that this prosecution team might fall on its face, which is hard to believe now. Because they did such a good job. But it really was an extraordinary presentation.

And the witnesses they had really in the end were incredible. And the ultimate witness, the videotapes, were extraordinary. And as Jerry Blackwell said in his closing argument, the final witness, common sense. And it was the appeal to the jurors' common sense that won out here after all.

- Esme, thanks for the great recap. We'll check back with you later in the evening as well.