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The Possible Verdict Outcomes For Derek Chauvin

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Attorney Joe Tamburino looks at the possible outcomes Derek Chauvin faces Tuesday afternoon (4:44). WCCO 4 News - April 20, 2021

Video Transcript

- I wonder if we can check in with Joe Tamburino, a long time criminal defense attorney in Minnesota. He's done more than 100 jury trials in this state. He's watched every minute of testimony along with me on CBS and Minnesota throughout this trial. And I wonder if Joe can give us a little bit of insight as to what choices the jury had here? They were considering three different charges against Derek Chauvin. But Joe, tell us what the options are for the jury to come back with.

JOE TAMBURINO: Yes. The jury could come back with whatever they like. A lot of people would say, well, if they come back guilty on the top counts, they must come back guilty on the other two. That's not correct. There would be no inconsistent verdict regardless of how they come back. So they could decide guilty on counts one and two and not guilty on three. Or guilty on counts two or three and not guilty on one. Or they can come back not guilty. It is truly their choice.

- And when it comes to working through these charges, the judge gave various kind of elements of each charge. I will say Joe and I don't know what your thoughts are on this, but I am surprised in a case that had this much evidence, this many witnesses relatively complicated jury instructions. As far as we know, the jury did not have a single question of a point of clarification, anything for the judge, no questions. They just did their work for 10 hours.

JOE TAMBURINO: Yes. And you will see that in cases. The most difficult charge here is count one. And I mean the most difficult charge to understand. Because the jury has to work through a few steps.

- Now let's explain that.

JOE TAMBURINO: Number one, they has to work through--

- Joe, you're talking about second degree murder, which is an unintentional murder during a felony.

JOE TAMBURINO: That is correct. And the steps they have to work through are the following. They have to first decide whether Mr. Chauvin intentionally assaulted Mr. Floyd. That means he wanted to do some type of harm to Mr. Floyd. And he was not using reasonable force. Then they have to decide, did that assault result in substantial bodily harm? Meaning, was it the actual cause of Mr. Floyd going unconscious? And then they have to decide, did that then cause or a substantial causal factor Mr. Floyd to die?

So you have to go through three levels just within that short instruction for count one, murder second degree unintentional felony murder. So that's the hardest one. The other two I believe are easier to deal with.

- Yeah. At least in terms of the straightforwardness of the elements that you need to decide on guilt or not guilt. Correct?

JOE TAMBURINO: That's right. Because even take for instance count three, which is the second degree manslaughter culpable negligence. That basically means and if you read it you could easily determine it means recklessness. You didn't use proper care. Like if you were driving drunk and you hit someone and killed them. Of course, that's reckless. Or even count two which is murder in the third degree depraved mind. What that means is you did something extremely reckless. You had no care as to whether or not someone would die or become seriously injured and then die. So that's easier to understand. But count one with the felony murder, the unintentional murder, it's got several levels that you have to work through.

- Joe, we just got word from the pool reporter who is covering the goings on in the courtroom, the courthouse. There's one print, one broadcast reporter there. Under normal circumstances we would see comings and goings and you would know what's going on. And now we don't have that because they have a secured entry and all of that because of COVID, because of security as you look live inside that courtroom right now.

But we do know that Derek Chauvin is now at the courthouse with his attorney Eric Nelson. Joe, you're a defense attorney. You've been there. What are these moments like as we are possibly 22 minutes away from hearing a verdict?

JOE TAMBURINO: The anxiety level is off the charts. I've been in situations many times with clients where literally it's hard for them to stay still or keep focused because they're so worried about the verdict. It is the most intense situation that anyone would experience. It's extreme pressure.

- Joe Tamburino, our legal analyst. Been with us throughout the trial. Joe, thanks for your insight.