Derek Chauvin has been found guilty of two counts of murder and one count of manslaughter. But how can someone be found guilty of both for the same killing?
Derek Chauvin has been found guilty of murdering George Floyd, or more precisely he’s been found guilty of two counts of murder and one count of manslaughter.
But how can someone be convicted of both murder and manslaughter for the same killing?
Trial judge Peter Cahill’s instructions to the jury demonstrate how the system works in Minnesota.
Derek Chauvin faced ‘separate and distinct’ charges
The former police officer faced three charges relating to his decision to pin George Floyd by the neck until he died:
- Unintentional second-degree murder
- Third-degree murder
- Second-degree manslaughter
It was open to the jury to convict Chauvin of all, some or none of the above because they were instructed by Judge Cahill to consider each charge as a “separate and distinct” offence.
None of the charges required proof Chauvin intended to kill Mr Floyd, and he would have been charged with intentional murder if that were the case.
The different offences relate to Chauvin’s state of mind while kneeling on George Floyd’s neck.(Darnella Frazier via AP
The charges brought in the Minnesota District Court each relied on different elements and were not mutually exclusive.
To convict Chauvin on the second-degree murder charge, the jury needed to be convinced he unintentionally killed Mr Floyd while committing or trying to commit another crime assault in the third degree.
To convict him of third-degree murder, the jury had to believe he acted in an “eminently dangerous” way, with reckless disregard towards human life when he killed Mr Floyd.
RECAP: Look back on all the reaction to Derek Chauvin’s conviction with our live blog
The second-degree manslaughter charge required the jury to find he was culpably negligent in causing Mr Floyd’s death.
As the jury believed each of the distinct charges were proved beyond a reasonable doubt, they were required to return guilty verdicts on all three counts.
What will Derek Chauvin’s sentence be?
After today’s guilty verdict, Derek Chauvin was taken to jail to await sentencing in eight weeks’ time.
Each count he has been found guilty of carries its own maximum sentence.
- Second-degree unintentional murder: 40 years
- Third-degree murder: 25 years
- Second-degree manslaughter: 10 years
But Minnesota’s sentencing guidelines suggest far less as a starting point.
Chauvin will be sentenced in eight weeks’ time.(AP: Court TV
They list a presumptive sentence of 150 months for each of the murder counts or 12 years and six months if a person has no prior criminal history.
But the state is expected to argue Chauvin should face a harsher sentence than the guidelines recommend, because of aggravating factors.
George Floyd’s death changed America how did we get here?
It was one of the most prominent killings in a years-long string of African-American deaths at the hands of police in the US, and set off global protests over the treatment of people of colour.
The sentencing guidelines also include a presumption that multiple sentences arising from “current offences” should be served concurrently.
That means they’d be served alongside each other at the same time, instead of stacked end to end.
Regardless of the final sentence, in Minnesota, defendants typically serve two-thirds of their penalty in prison, with the rest on parole.