Chauvin decides not to testify, defense and prosecutors rest case

Derek Chauvin told the court Thursday morning that he will not testify in this case, choosing to invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege. Derek Chauvin told the court Thursday morning that he will not testify in this case, choosing to invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege. |  Photo: Courtroom video

WDIO/KSTP/The Associated Press
Updated: April 15, 2021 11:27 AM
Created: April 15, 2021 09:33 AM

The defense and prosecution have both rested their cases in the trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin after Chauvin decided not to testify. Closing arguments and deliberations set to begin Monday.

The defense rested its case on Thursday morning after three days of testimony. Chauvin himself told the court Thursday morning that he will not testify in this case, choosing to invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege.

It's a high-stakes decision. Taking the stand could have helped humanize Chauvin to jurors who haven’t heard from him directly at trial. But it also could have opened him up to a devastating cross-examination.

In court, without the jury present, defense attorney Eric Nelson and Chauvin agreed it would be an understatement to say they had gone back and forth on the decision.

After the defense rested, the state briefly called a rebuttal witness before resting its case. Judge Peter Cahill then dismissed the jury until Monday.

Chauvin, 45, is charged with murder and manslaughter in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd.

On Wednesday, defense testimony included a single witness. Dr. David Fowler, a former Maryland chief medical examiner who is now with a consulting firm, was on the stand for seven hours. He told jurors he believed George Floyd died of a sudden heart rhythm disturbance as a result of his heart disease. This contradicted prosecution experts who said Floyd succumbed to a lack of oxygen from the way he was pinned down.

Fowler also said the fentanyl and methamphetamine in Floyd's system, and possibly carbon monoxide poisoning from auto exhaust, were contributing factors in the Floyd's death last May.

Court proceedings on Thursday:

State prosecutor Jerry Blackwell says the state has blood gas evidence from Hennepin County "that would contain blood gas reading for the carbon monoxide content in Mr. Floyd's blood on May 25, 2020." He adds the state was just notified of this evidence on carbon monoxide Wednesday. According to Blackwell, Hennepin County Medical Examiner Dr. Andrew Baker discovered it.

The state is moving to bring back Dr. Martin Tobin, the Chicago pulmonologist, to re-take the witness stand as a rebuttal witness. Nelson is objecting, as it would be a move to bring back Tobin to "talk about what he already talked about."

Blackwell states they wouldn't be having these discussions if it weren't for Dr. Fowler's testimony on Wednesday. 

The defense officially rests its case. The state recalls Dr. Martin Tobin to the witness stand. Dr. Tobin is a Pulmonologist and critical care doctor. Blackwell asks if Dr. Tobin heard Dr. Fowler's testimony from Wednesday.


WDIO/KSTP/The Associated Press

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