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Testimony ends in Chauvin trial without ex-officer taking stand; closing arguments Monday

George Floyd Officer Trial
Posted at 8:25 AM, Apr 15, 2021

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Both the prosecution and defense rested their cases Thursday after wrapping up their witness testimony in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with the murder of George Floyd.

Next, both sides will deliver their closing arguments on Monday. After that, the jury will be sequestered as they deliberate whether to find Chauvin guilty in Floyd’s death.

Though it was speculated that Chauvin was possibly going to take the stand, he did not. Instead, he invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination Thursday morning.

Also on Thursday, the prosecution sought to admit new evidence regarding carbon monoxide, but Judge Peter Cahill denied that request. The judge said the late disclosure of evidence was not the way the court should be operating.

Prosecutors wanted to admit the new evidence to argue that carbon monoxide couldn’t have played a role in the death of George Floyd. A defense witness testified on Wednesday that carbon monoxide from the exhaust of a squad car could have contributed to Floyd’s death.

Though the judge didn’t permit the new evidence, he did allow a previous witness, pulmonologist Dr. Martin Tobin, to take stand again to speak about the role carbon monoxide may or may not have played in the death of Floyd.

Tobin testified that David Fowler’s testimony about carbon monoxide was “simply wrong” and explained that, according to Floyd’s oxygen saturation, the amount of carbon monoxide in the 46-year-old’s blood would 2% or less, which he called, “within the normal range.”

Throughout the trial, prosecutors have alleged that Floyd’s death was directly caused by Chauvin’s decision to kneel on Floyd’s neck and shoulder for more than eight minutes. State-called medical experts have testified that Floyd suffered a heart attack due to a lack of oxygen in his body.

Defense lawyers have attempted to paint a picture that shows other forces outside of the viral nine-minute bystander video that fueled months of protest last summer were at work in Floyd's death. They point to Floyd’s drug use as a potential cause of death and have called witnesses that have justified Chauvin’s use of force.

Chauvin is charged with second- and third-degree murder in connection with Floyd's death.

Below are updates on the trial from Thursday:

UPDATE, 11:50 a.m. ET: After defense attorney Eric Nelson cross-examined Dr. Martin Tobin for a few minutes, the State of Minnesota rested. Judge Peter Cahill then wrapped up the last day of testimony in Derek Chauvin trial. Evidence is now complete in the case of George Floyd’s death.

The judge said the court will resume at 10 a.m. ET on Monday. At that time, the prosecution and the defense will deliver their closing arguments. Afterwards, the jury will be sequestered as they deliberate for an undetermined amount of time.

Before court wrapped up Thursday, Cahill advised the jury how much they should pack for the sequester.

“If I were you, I would plan for long and hope for short,” said the judge, who added that the length of deliberations are entirely within the jury’s purview.

UPDATE, 11:20 a.m. ET: Court resumed, and pulmonologist Dr. Martin Tobin took the stand. He’s a former ICU doctor who studied breathing for 46 years, according to the prosecuting attorney.

Tobin said he heard David Fowler’s testimony on the potential role of carbon monoxide in George Floyd death on Wednesday.

Tobin said he didn’t agree with the following statement that was presented by the defense on Wednesday, “In 7 minutes, Mr. Floyd’s Carbonxyhemoglobin could have increased by 10-18%.”

Tobin said that statement is “simply wrong” and then explained what carbonxyhemoglobin is and how the most Floyd could have had in his system was 2%.

“Carbonxyhemoglobin is when the carbon monoxide combines with the protein in the blood that’s called the hemoglobin, and so it’s the combination of the carbon monoxide and that protein in the blood,” said Tobin. “It’s important because when the carbon monoxide binds to the hemoglobin, it displaces the oxygen off the hemoglobin. So, you need the oxygen on the hemoglobin. You don’t want carbonxy in it. It takes it over.”

When Floyd was sent to the hospital, Tobin said his oxygen saturation was tested, which is how much the protein hemoglobin in the blood is saturated with oxygen.

“And we know in Mr. Floyd, that it was 98% saturated,” said Tobin.

“It tells us that if the hemoglobin is saturated at 98%, it tells you all there was for everything else is 2%. And so, the maximum amount for carbon monoxide would be 2%. It tells you that the maximum amount of carbonxyhemoglobin – that was what was mentioned yesterday – the maximum amount was 2%. It doesn’t even tell you that it was 2%. It could be something else, but 2% of carbonxyhemoglobin is within the normal range.”

UPDATE, 11 a.m. ET: Judge Peter Cahill denied the prosecution’s request to admit new evidence regarding carbon monoxide in the Derek Chauvin trial.

Prosecutors wanted to admit new evidence about the role carbon monoxide could have played in the death of George Floyd after a defense witness named David Fowler testified Wednesday that carbon monoxide from the exhaust of a squad car could have contributed to Floyd’s death.

Fowler is the former chief medical examiner at the Maryland Department of Health.

Though the judge didn’t allow the new evidence to be admitted, he said he would permit a previous witness, pulmonologist Dr. Martin Tobin, to take stand again to speak about the role carbon monoxide may or may not have played in the death of Floyd.

“So, Dr. Tobin will not be able to testify as to those lab results. If there’s anything he’d wish to add about carbon monoxide as far as environmental factors, but if he even hints that there are test results that the jury hasn’t heard about, it’s going to be a mistrial, pure and simple,” said the judge.

Cahill said the late disclosure of the evidence is not the way the court should be operating.

"In that case, Dr. Tobin may testify as to carbon monoxide if he sticks to the environmental factors and as a pulmonologist looking at the videos for example and seeing Mr. Floyd’s location and not knowing whether the vehicle is even on or not, which the state brought out in cross-examination," said the judge. All those factors, he can talk about environmentally and what the likelihood is that it would affect his carbon monoxide concentration in Mr. Floyd’s blood."

Judge threatens mistrial if rejected evidence is brought up

UPDATE, 10:24 a.m. ET: Lawyers for Derek Chauvin have informed Judge Peter Cahill that they have rested their case, and that Chauvin will not be taking the stand on his own behalf.

Chauvin informed Judge Peter Cahill Thursday morning that he did not intend to testify and would invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Because the defense has rested its case, closing arguments could begin as soon as Thursday.

Derek Chauvin invokes Fifth Amendment, won't testify in murder trial

Watch coverage of the Derek Chauvin trial here.

Court TV will be the only network with cameras in the courtroom and will provide live, gavel-to-gavel coverage.

The entire trial will be on live TV as well as available online, and the Court TV app for Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Android and Apple devices.

Find Court TV's full coverage of MN v. Derek Chauvin here.