MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota — The verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial is in, but Judge Peter Cahill must still decide about how to sentence the ex-officer convicted of murdering George Floyd.
Because Chauvin has no criminal history, sentencing guidelines are 12.5 years for murder charges, but prosecutors are pressing the judge for a longer sentence.
“There's a provision called aggravating factors,” said Lucas Fleming, a criminal defense attorney in Pinellas County and former Hillsborough prosecutor. “…The state has filed a notice saying, ‘you know what guys, we want to go above that 12-and-a-half years, we want him to get the full 40. In order for us to get the full 40, we have to show one of the five factors that were present in this case.'"
Fleming says those aggravating factors include committing a crime in front of a child, Floyd’s vulnerability because he was in handcuffs, cruel punishment and abuse of authority.
“I don't know if you recall the testimony of that 9-year-old girl. That was just chilling and compelling hearing the way she talked about that,” he said.
Some attorneys following the case believe Judge Peter Cahill will hand down a sentence closer to the maximum of 40 years.
“I expect it to possibly be maybe a little under the 40 years,” said Angela Minor, an attorney and professor at Howard University in Washington.
“I think the judge is going to accept those aggravating factors,” said Fleming. “My money is on a sentence of 30-year range.”
Fleming and Minor both say the verdict signals a seismic shift in accountability for law enforcement.
"I hope that this will act as a huge deterrent, and that unlawful killings of black and brown people will begin to decline…” said Minor. “However, this is the beginning. I think we have a lot to do for restorative justice in America.”
Judge Cahill said sentencing is expected to take place in eight weeks.
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