by Amy Forlitti and Scott Bauer
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Jurors on Thursday resumed deliberations for the fourth day in the murder trial of the suburban Minneapolis police officer who shot and killed black motorist Don’t Wright, with questions about what if the day’s death trial. How will the judge handle the case without the day ending? Verdict before Christmas holiday weekend.
The jurors in the trial of former Brooklyn Center officer Kim Potter have been separated since deliberations began Monday, meaning they are under court supervision and will wait until they are done. Stay in an unknown hotel. A spokeswoman for the court said that if the verdict doesn’t come by the end of the day, however, Judge Regina Chu plans to let them spend the long holiday weekend at home before returning on Monday.
Lawyers not involved in the case said breaking the forfeiture would be highly unusual and could lead to misdemeanor behavior.
“I’ve never heard of it in my life,” said Minneapolis criminal defense attorney Marsh Halberg, who is looking into the case. “The whole idea of sequestration is that you don’t interact with other people and there are outside influences that are intentional or unintentional. Now that goes out the window.”
Halberg said Chu could declare a wrongful trial as an option to reverse his forfeiture order.
On Tuesday, jurors asked Chu what if they couldn’t reach a verdict and he told them to keep trying. He had no questions on Wednesday or early Thursday.
Potter, 49, said she wanted to use her Taser on Wright instead of her gun. He has been charged with first- and second-degree murder. If convicted of the most serious charge, he would face a sentence of about seven years under state guidelines, though prosecutors have said they will ask for more.
In August, Chu ruled that the jury would be separated during the deliberations – meaning that the jury would remain under court supervision at an undisclosed hotel and could not return home until they reached a verdict or They determined they couldn’t reach one.
However, Xu told the jurors during the jury selection that he would have time on Christmas Eve and Christmas weekend. Court spokesman Nick Nadeau said the judge intended to stick to that plan.
Chu would have to un-sequence them over the holiday weekend – possibly with very strict rules – and then re-sequence them on Monday.
Halberg said that if that happens, Potter’s lawyers would object and that it would be a good appeals issue for him if he is convicted after the discharge. However, prosecutors can argue that it would be speculation that the leave of absence hurt the ability of the jurors to consider the case objectively.
But Halberg said alternatively, if Chu were to tell the mostly white jurors that he would have time off after initially telling him, he would have to be secluded during the long weekend, which is appealing as well. Maybe if they come back. a firm belief.
Another Minneapolis attorney, Mike Brandt, agreed after the case that the jury’s work on Christmas would be “disastrous.” But he said he sees a problem with breaking up the jury’s sequester because it goes against forfeiture.
He said that under the rules of criminal procedure, confiscation is ordered when a case is of so much defamation that cases with extreme prejudice are likely to come to the notice of the jury if they are not sequenced.
“This case fits smack dab in that. … The whole idea of forfeiture is that they don’t want these jurors to get outside influence,” Brandt said.
During the closing arguments, prosecutors accused Potter of a “mistake of epic proportions” in Wright’s death during an April 11 traffic stop, but said that making a mistake was not a defense.
Potter’s lawyers protested that Wright, who was attempting to get away from the authorities as they sought to handcuff him for an excellent warrant on a weapons charge, led to his own death.
Wright’s death triggered angry protests in the Brooklyn Center, just as the trial of another white officer in the murder of George Floyd in nearby Minneapolis was underway.
Potter, who resigned two days after Wright’s death, testified Friday that she “doesn’t want to hurt anyone” and told her “sorry, it happened.”
Chu told the jurors that the state did not need to prove that Potter tried to kill Wright.
The judge said that for first-degree murder, prosecutors must prove that Potter caused Wright’s death while committing the crime of reckless operation of a firearm. This means that he must prove that he has committed a conscious or intentional act when handling or using a firearm that creates a substantial or unreasonable risk that he was aware of and disregarded, And that he had put safety at risk.
For second-degree murder, prosecutors must prove that he acted negligently, meaning he intentionally took the chance of death or major bodily harm.
Bauer reported from Madison, Wisconsin.
Get full coverage of AP’s Daunte Wright case: https://apnews.com/hub/death-of-daunte-wright