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CHAUVIN TRIAL: What’s next?

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Judge Peter Cahill
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MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (KTTC) -- Jury selection in the Derek Chauvin murder trial has officially ended.

After 11 days of questioning people, 15 jurors are seated.
The 15th person was chosen Tuesday morning.

"We have 15. Just to reiterate, 14 will be seated. That's all we have room for," said Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill.

Cahill plans to excuse the 15th juror on Monday.

"The whole point of this 15th juror was to make sure that we have 14 people show up on Monday. Nevertheless, I'm still not going to release the jury pool until the jury is sworn in. The off chance that we still have to pick some alternates. But I'm hopeful that since it's only a few days that will have 14 people show up and those 14 will be seated and sworn, and we'll proceed with opening statements at that time," Cahill said.

Only 12 jurors will deliberate. Two jurors will be alternates. Cahill will not reveal who the alternates are until attorneys have finished making their cases.

The court will be back in session on Monday, March 29.

"And then the jurors would get some preliminary instructions before the start of the trial. Then the next steps would be opening statements," said Rochester criminal defense attorney Jim McGeeney, who is not involved in this trial.

Opening statements begin at 9 a.m. that day.

What happens during opening statements?

"Each attorney, starting with the state, gets to try to give the jurors kind of a road map about how the evidence is going to come in. So, you are allowed to tell the jury what you believe the evidence is going to show," said McGeeney.

The defense doesn't have to make an opening statement at the beginning of the trial.

"They can waive their opening statement and reserve it. And make their opening statement after the state rests their case in chief. It's not very common but it's one of the options that a criminal defendant has," McGeeney said. "In my practice, I always make an opening statement because it's your opportunity to speak to the jury right away."

After opening statements, the state will begin calling witnesses.

"The jurors need to pay attention to everything. They need to listen to witness testimony and then evaluate the witness's credibility/believability. And they need to observe and evaluate the other evidence," McGeeney said.

It's also important to know that defendants like Chauvin can choose not to testify.

"My experience is usually a jury wants to hear a defendant they want to hear him explain him or herself, and their actions. Or deny that they committed a crime. There are certainly reasons and cases where a defendant will choose to not testify," McGeeney said.

It's a huge responsibility for these 15 jurors:

6 White women
3 White men
3 Black men
2 Multiracial women
1 Black woman
"The juror's job to determine the questions in fact in this case. And the ultimate question, in fact, did the defendant cause the death of Mr. Floyd?" McGeeney said.

Attorneys for George Floyd's family released a statement about jury selection.

”We are pleased that the jury has been seated and the Chauvin trial can proceed. After hearing the facts, we hope and expect the jury to deliver a just verdict. This is not a hard case. George Floyd had more witnesses to his death than any other person ever -- white or Black. We all saw the same thing -- the indisputable and unjustified torture and murder by a police officer of a Black man who was handcuffed, restrained and posed no harm. If George Floyd had been white, the facts would be undisputed and justice would be swift. We expect the same for George.”

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