Louisiana Digital News

Episode 10 – Riot Acts


Welcome to the 10th episode of Fate of the Union. As always, I am your host Franklin Joseph. This episode will cover the protests and riots that have ensued across the country in the days since last episode. However, we first must review a development in the charges facing the officers.

As of the recording of last week’s episode, Officer Chauvin was charged with third degree murder in connection with the death of George Floyd. As a review, third degree murder in Minnesota is covered by 609.195 MURDER IN THE THIRD DEGREE.

First, we see that this statute pertains to a defendant who caused the death of another person by acting in an eminently dangerous way or with a depraved mind, even though the defendant DID NOT intend to cause the death of the victim. Many states have similar laws. Sometimes they are referred to “depraved indifference” murder laws. Basically, these laws are reserves for defendants who had a reckless disregard for whether death may be a result of their actions, but still did not intend to kill anyone like a defendant convicted of premeditate first degree murder would have. Commentary on the law summarizes it like this: “Minnesota also has a third-degree murder statute between second-degree murder and the two levels of manslaughter. This type of murder is not intentional and therefore is not as severely punished as first and some second-degree murder killings. However, the behavior is so atrocious that it isn’t mitigated or lowered to manslaughter in the first or second degree.”

On Wednesday June 3rd, it was revealed that court documents show that the three officers on the scene besides Chauvin were now being charged as aiding and abetting second-degree unintentional murder, as well as aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.

Also, Chauvin’s charges now included second degree murder as well. He still faces third degree murder and second degree manslaughter charges as well. Minneapolis’ local CBS affiliate notes that “Minnesota’s sentencing guidelines indicate two different possibilities for intentional second-degree murder and unintentional second-degree murder. The former sentencing guideline calls for, upon conviction, 25 and a half years in prison, whereas the latter calls for 12 and a half years.”

The second degree murder charges will be examined under the law’s section regarding unintentional killings for a similar reason that Chauvin was not initially charged with first degree murder.

The second degree murder charge has two ways to convict someone for an unintentional killing. Similar to the third degree charge, the first way is that defendant must have been committing a felony that resulted in the victim’s death. While the third degree charge calls for simply reckless indifference to life (presumably general negligence or recklessness for others’ well being), this charge requires the defendant’s actions leading up to the victim’s death to actually be a felony.

The second way is when the defendant causes the death of a human being without intent to effect the death of any person, while intentionally inflicting or attempting to inflict bodily harm upon the victim, when the perpetrator is restrained under an order for protection and the victim is a person designated to receive protection under the order.

I know I just hit you with a lot of legalese, so let’s break it down. The new second degree murder charge may be problematic for the state to prove for a few reasons. First, the so-called “order of protection” section of the law does not expressly mention an arrest or detainment as qualifying as “orders” as it’s mentioned in the law. The other thorny issue here for the prosecution, pertaining to the first section, is that they would also have to prove that Officer Chauvin was committing a felony leading up to Floyd’s death. Although these two sections of the second degree murder statute, the felony resulting in murder part and the order of protection part, are not both needed for a conviction (it can be one situation or the other, or both), there are hurdles that the state has with proving both. In my opinion, it’s crucial that the third degree murder charge has remained active in this case. The state is necessarily tying the proof of another felony into the first portion of this charge, and an argument liking the arrest of George Floyd to what the law says is an “order of protection” in the other part. If they cannot sustain this burden, then the most serious charge remaining would be that third degree murder charge.

For a full transcript/written analysis, please visit: www.medium.com/@fateoftheunion

If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe on iTunes and leave a rating/review. You can also find out more about the show and its host on twitter at FranklinFOTU and Fate of the Union, searching Fate of the Union on Medium, and at franklinfotu@gmail.com.


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