Derek Chauvin Trial Judge Tells Jury to 'Plan for Long, Hope For Short' Deliberation

The judge overseeing the trial of Derek Chauvin advised jurors to prepare for a lengthy deliberation ahead of closing arguments in the most-watched murder cases.

Judge Peter Cahill said jurors should "plan for long, hope for short" as the defense rested its case on Thursday after two days of testimony. Chauvin, the ex-Minneapolis police officer, faces second- and third-degree murder and manslaughter charges after he knelt on the neck of George Floyd, a Black man, until he died.

Chauvin chose to invoke his Fifth Amendment right not to testify following weeks of speculation about whether he would explain his actions to the jury, who heard more than two weeks of testimony from the prosecution. Law enforcement officials, including Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, testified for the prosecution that Chauvin used excessive force that went against his training.

Medical experts confirmed that Floyd died of asphyxia as a result of his breathing being constricted by the way he was pressed to the ground. Viral footage of Chauvin's actions triggered worldwide protests and reconciliation with the legacy of racism in the U.S. over the late spring and summer of 2020.

Minneapolis is bracing for another potential wave of demonstrations and violence should the trial's outcome fail to satisfy demands for justice in Floyd's death.

Chauvin Trial
Ashley Dorelus (center) plays hopscotch as people demonstrate outside the Hennepin County Government Center on April 7, 2021, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where former city police Officer Derek Chauvin is on trial in the death of George Floyd last May. Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Closing arguments are set to begin Monday, after which a racially diverse jury will begin deliberating at a barbed-wire-ringed courthouse in a city on edge—not just because of the Chauvin case but because of the deadly police shooting of a 20-year-old Black man in a Minneapolis suburb last weekend.

Before the jury was brought in Thursday morning, Chauvin, 45, his COVID-19 mask removed in a rare courtroom moment, ended weeks of speculation by informing the judge he would invoke his Fifth Amendment right not to testify.

The most serious charge against the now-fired white officer, second-degree murder, carries up to 40 years in prison, though state guidelines call for about 12.

Prosecutors say Floyd died because the officer's knee was pressed against Floyd's neck or close to it for 9 1/2 minutes as he lay on the pavement on his stomach, his hands cuffed behind him and his face jammed against the ground.

Chauvin attorney Eric Nelson called a police use-of-force expert and a forensic pathologist to help make the case that Chauvin acted reasonably against a struggling suspect and that Floyd died because of an underlying heart condition and his illegal drug use. Floyd had high blood pressure and narrowed arteries, and fentanyl and methamphetamine were found in his system.

The only time Chauvin has been heard defending himself was when the jury listened to body-camera footage from the scene. After an ambulance had taken Floyd away, Chauvin told a bystander: "We gotta control this guy 'cause he's a sizable guy...and it looks like he's probably on something."

The decision of whether Chauvin should testify carried risks either way.

Taking the stand could have opened him up to devastating cross-examination, with prosecutors replaying the video of the arrest and forcing Chauvin to explain, one frame at a time, why he kept pressing down on Floyd.

But testifying could have also given the jury the opportunity to look at his unmasked face and see or hear any remorse or sympathy he might feel.

Also, what was going through Chauvin's mind could be crucial: Legal experts say that an officer who believes his or her life was at risk can be found to have acted legally even if, in hindsight, it turns out there was no such danger.

In one final bit of testimony on Thursday, the prosecution briefly recalled a lung and critical care expert to knock down a defense witness' theory that carbon monoxide poisoning from a squad car's exhaust might have contributed to Floyd's death. Dr. Martin Tobin noted hospital tests that showed Floyd's level was at most 2%, within the normal range.

The case has unfolded amid days of protests in the adjoining suburb of Brooklyn Center, after Officer Kim Potter, who is white, apparently mistook her gun for a Taser and fatally shot Daunte Wright. She resigned and was charged with manslaughter.