Joe Barrett, Wall Street Journal, January 12, 2021
Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with second-degree murder in the killing of George Floyd, will stand trial alone starting March 8, a Hennepin County judge said in a ruling dated Monday.
The decision, based on an inability to safely hold the trial while maintaining social distancing, was hailed as good news by lawyers for the other defendants.
“It is a very favorable decision for my client,” said Earl Gray, a lawyer for defendant Thomas Lane, calling it a “surprise in some ways.” Since Mr. Lane and the other officers are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder, he expects the charges would be dropped if Mr. Chauvin is found not guilty.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, whose office is trying the case, said he was disappointed that the judge had decided to try the cases separately. “The evidence against each defendant is similar and multiple trials may retraumatize eyewitnesses and family members and unnecessarily burden the State and the Court while also running the risk of prejudicing subsequent jury pools,” he said in a statement.