Three days after the death of George Floyd, while soldiers prepared to protect the Twin Cities from burning, Derek Chauvin thought the case against him was so devastating that he agreed to plead guilty to third-degree murder. He was willing to go to prison for more than ten years, and the city was preparing to make the announcement to the media.
But Bill Barr intervened and rejected the arrangement, according to new details laid out by three law enforcement officials. One official said that Barr felt a plea deal would be rejected by the public as too lenient so early in the investigation.
- The deal was contingent on the federal government’s approval because Chauvin, who had asked to serve his time in a federal prison, wanted assurance that he would not face federal civil rights charges.
- At the same time, Barr wanted to allow state officials, who were about to take over the case from the county prosecutor who has had tense relations with Minneapolis’s Black community, to make their own decisions about how to proceed.
Jury selection is scheduled for March 8 for the Chauvin trial, but the trial may be delayed. The prosecution is asking an appeals court to put off the trial, citing the dangers of protests becoming a superspreader event.
The state is also appealing a decision by Judge Peter A. Cahill to separate the trial of Chauvin, who is charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter — the initial charge of third-degree murder was dropped — from the trial of three other former officers involved in Floyd’s death, two of whom were rookies with just a few days on the job.
Speculators say the decision to separate the trials of all participants is to benefit Chauvin, who could be targeted by the other officers pointing blame at Chauvin.