Robert Del Greco breaks down the Derek Chauvin trial closing arguments and charges.
- And joining me now live over Zoom to break down what happens next is criminal defense attorney Robert Del Greco. Bob, thank you for joining us tonight.
ROBERT DEL GRECO: Oh, you're welcome. Good evening. Thank you for having me.
- In your opinion, what are the issues that the jury has to decide right now?
ROBERT DEL GRECO: Well, of course in a criminal case, it's the highest burden under the law, so the jury will have to determine guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Now Derek Chauvin is charged with third degree murder, second degree murder, and manslaughter, which are various degrees of culpability relative to an episode where death results.
Of course second degree murder, the most severe, third degree murder next, and second degree manslaughter, not as severe of the murder charge. But what they'll have to do is they will have to determine in order to convict him of each and every elements of those offenses. If you have a second I wouldn't mind going through them with your viewers.
- Of course, yeah. Please do.
Before we do that, I want to hasten to say that Derek Chauvin is not charged with first degree murder. And so there's not a death penalty. There's not a life imprisonment. No one has deemed it appropriate to indicate that he willfully, intentionally, premeditatedly, deliberately, or calculatedly committed a homicide. No one saying that he was lying in wait, he poisoned everyone, or he had thought about this.
And so for the third degree murder case, essentially what they have to prove is that he was acting dangerously with what's called a depraved mind. I'd also like the viewers to know that Minnesota's third degree, second degree murder charges as well as the manslaughter charges essentially mirror Pennsylvania's in many ways.
But what it requires is that he had a hardened heart. He had a depraved mind. He had this conscious disregard for the value of human life. He just really didn't care. For the second degree murder, interestingly, he's the same kind of a deal except a little less intent. And not quite as much hardness of heart or disregard, hate, depravity, disregard for human life, those kind of matters.
And then, of course, with regard to the manslaughter charge, essentially he was saying he unintentionally caused the death of another under circumstances where he had a conscious disregard for human life. He just didn't care. And so each of those elements will have to be proved to the satisfaction of the jury beyond a reasonable doubt. And this jury can convict him of all three. One or the other, or any permutation of those three.
- Chauvin decided to not testify. What do you make of that?
ROBERT DEL GRECO: It doesn't surprise seasoned defense lawyers, and probably prosecutors, too. I doubt that anyone expected him to testify. When you testify, you're subject to cross-examination, and a seasoned experienced prosecutor or attorney would ask him some very, very difficult questions.
The other thing that he's relying on to the extent that the jury follows the judge's instruction is that he has a right not to testify and no adverse inference can be drawn from his failure to testify. So that is a neutral fact. , I must tell you that in my experience. I don't have a high confidence for jurors following that component of the law that he doesn't have to testify. Generally what jurors will say after a trial is why didn't he testify? What was he hiding?
In this instance, and I haven't followed the absolute details of this case. But in this instance, I think it was probably well advised that he not testify because I think he would have been subject to some grueling cross-examination and be put in a position where some of the explanations probably would not have been satisfying or appealing to a finder of fact.
- Bob, thank you so much for your legal opinion and for taking the time to join us tonight.
ROBERT DEL GRECO: You're welcome. Thanks for having me.