Legal analysts respond to guilty verdict in Chauvin trial

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DENVER (KDVR) — As millions of Americans waited anxiously for a verdict in the death of George Floyd, legal analysts were carefully monitoring every move of the historic trial. 

In the end, former police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted on all three counts, and will likely spend decades in prison. 

“This is an important verdict in social terms, it’s a significant verdict in legal terms, and it’s one that we’ll all be talking about for a long time,” said FOX31 Legal Analyst Chris Decker.

Decker said he was expecting the guilty verdict after watching weeks of powerful testimony, “I think this is the right verdict, based on the evidence at hand.”

Decker said the trial did include a few surprises, including multiple police officers testifying against Chauvin, “The chief of police actually testified against one of his own officers.” Adding, “That is virtually unheard of, I’ve never seen it.”

Decker said based on the overwhelming evidence against him, he was surprised Chauvin declined to testify, “He had a right to remain silent and I honor that, but that was a bit of a surprise to me.”

“There was a lot at stake with that decision of whether to testify or not,” said CU Law Professor Aya Gruber.

Gruber says the defense likely made that decision to protect Chauvin from additional questioning, which may have hurt their case.

“This was such a strong case on the part of the prosecution, and testifying would have been like a hail mary pass,” Gruber said. “The risks were really high, because that testimony would open him up to cross examination, on every frame of that video.”

Both experts say cell phone video captured by witnesses played a huge role in the trial and they expect that trend to continue for years to come. 

“We are seeing more and more real time capturing of important evidence with these devices, and it goes both ways,” said Decker. “Sometimes the video is very, very helpful to the prosecution and confirms everything they say, and sometimes somebody’s got a video and it absolutely contradicts what the police are saying or what one witness might say.”

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