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George Floyd's Killer Wants New Trial

FILE: A young woman pays respect to George Floyd at a mural at George Floyd Square in Minneapolis, April 23, 2021. The area has become a protest site since Floyd, a Black man, was killed there by a white police officer in May 2020, sparking racial injustice protests.

An attorney for Derek Chauvin asked an appeals court Wednesday to throw out the former Minneapolis police officer's convictions in the murder of George Floyd, arguing that numerous legal and procedural errors deprived him of a fair trial. Floyd died on May 25, 2020, after Chauvin, who is White, pinned the Black man to the ground with his knee on his neck for 9 1/2 minutes

Chauvin's attorney, William Mohrman, told a three-judge panel of the Minnesota Court of Appeals that the trial judge should have moved the case out of Minneapolis because of the extensive pretrial publicity and fears of violent protests that led to unprecedent security precautions.

"The primary issue on this appeal is whether a criminal defendant can get a fair trial consistent with constitutional requirements in a courthouse surrounded by concrete block, barbed wire, two armored personnel carriers, and a squad of National Guard troops, all of which or whom are there for one purpose: in the event that the jury acquits the defendant," Mohrman said.

But Neal Katyal, a special attorney for the state who was acting U.S. solicitor general during the Obama administration, said Chauvin got "one of the most transparent and thorough trials in our nation's history. ... Chauvin's many arguments before this court do not come close to justifying reversal."

Hennepin County Minnesota Judge Peter Cahill sentenced Chauvin to 22 1/2 years after jurors found him guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Chauvin later pleaded guilty to a separate federal civil rights charge and was sentenced to 21 years in federal prison, which is he is now serving in Arizona concurrent with his state sentence.

While Chauvin waived his right to appeal under his federal plea deal, he did not drop his appeal of his murder convictions in state court.

Even if he wins his appeal, his federal sentence will keep him in prison longer than his state sentence likely would because he would qualify for parole earlier in the state system.

The court is expected to rule within 90 days.