March 8 (UPI) -- Jury selection in the trial of former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin, originally set to begin Monday, was delayed for a least one day as prosecutors sought to reinstate a dismissed murder charge.
A pool of potential jurors for Chauvin's trial were sent home until Tuesday by Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill after he determined he would not be able to immediately hear a planned appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court on prosecutors' efforts to reinstate a third-degree murder count against the former officer.
Chauvin, 45, currently faces charges of second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter in the case involving the killing of George Floyd almost a year ago. The former officer was caught on video last May kneeling on Floyd's neck for several minutes preceding his death.
Still at issue is whether he will also have to face an additional charge of murder in the third degree for the 46-year-old Floyd's death.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled on Friday that Cahill erred when he dismissed the murder charge against Chauvin last fall, and kicked the issue back to the trial court to reconsider.
Cahill is now facing motions from Chauvin's lawyers to appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court and by prosecutors to stop jury selection until the third-degree murder dispute is resolved.
The often time-consuming jury selection is expected to take as long as three weeks. Opening arguments in the case are presently scheduled to begin on March 29. Officials have listed more than 370 people as potential witnesses in jury selection.
Millions worldwide will be closely watching the legal proceedings and the case is expected to be a bellwether signal as to whether juries are willing to hold police officers accountable when they kill.
Three other officers who were at the scene of Floyd's death on May 25, 2020, are J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao. They were charged with aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter and are scheduled to be tried together in August. All three, and Chauvin, were fired from the Minneapolis police force over Floyd's death.
Floyd's death spurred mass protests nationwide and in many nations around the world. Protests occurred over the weekend in downtown Minneapolis, outside Gov. Tim Walz's home in St. Paul and at the Hennepin County Government Center, where the trial will take place.