A judge on Thursday granted prosecutors' request to add a third-degree murder charge against the former Minneapolis police officer charged in George Floyd's death, per the AP. Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill reinstated the charge after the former officer, Derek Chauvin, failed to get appellate courts to block it. Cahill had earlier rejected the charge as not warranted by the circumstances of Floyd's death, but an appellate court ruling in an unrelated case established new grounds for it. The appeals court recently affirmed former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor's third-degree murder conviction in the 2017 shooting death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, and the state used that affirmation to argue that it established new justification for the charge in Chauvin's case.
Cahill agreed that the precedent has now been established. "I feel bound by that and I feel it would be an abuse of discretion not to grant the motion," he said. Chauvin already faced second-degree murder and manslaughter charges. Legal experts say the additional charge helps prosecutors by giving jurors one more option to convict Chauvin of murder. The ruling came ahead of resumption of jury selection on Thursday. Five jurors have been seated after just two days of screening by attorneys and the judge, who has set aside at least three weeks to fill the panel. Attorneys have given considerable attention to the jury pool's attitudes toward police, trying to determine whether they're more inclined to believe testimony from law enforcement over evidence from other witnesses to the fatal confrontation.
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