Minnesota 3rd-degree murder law at issue in ex-cop's appeal | www.WDIO.com

Minnesota 3rd-degree murder law at issue in ex-cop's appeal

The Associated Press
Updated: June 09, 2021 04:54 PM
Created: June 09, 2021 03:03 PM

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - A prosecutor has urged the Minnesota Supreme Court to uphold the third-degree murder conviction of Mohamed Noor, a former Minneapolis police officer who fatally shot an Australian woman who had called 911 in 2017.

Prosecutor Jean Burdorf told the state's highest court on Wednesday that a reversal would make it impossible to prosecute other officers on the same charge.

"If you view Mr. Noor's conduct in the light most favorable to the verdict, as this court is required to do, and you apply it to that statutory definition, it is clear that Mr. Noor's conviction for third degree murder when he killed Justine Ruszcyk must be affirmed," Burdorf said.

But defense attorney Caitlinrose Fisher argued that Minnesota Court of Appeals erred in February when it affirmed Noor's conviction. She argued that the language of Minnesota's third-degree murder statute, backed by case law, requires that a defendant's actions be directed at more than one person.

The state law defines third-degree murder as "an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life."

A central dispute is whether "dangerous to others" must be read as plural, or if the fatal act can be directed at a single, specific person.

Fisher asked, "I ask your honors if what happened in that alley in those split seconds is sufficient to sustain Mr. Noor's conviction for depraved mind murder, then what death that results from an act directed at a particular person would not cross the line?"

The high court's ultimate decision has repercussions for four other ex-officers charged in the death of George Floyd, another high-profile police killing.

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The Associated Press

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