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Prosecutors seek longer sentence for Derek Chauvin

Sheridan Lair of Minneapolis, Minn., holds up a sign as she protests in front of the site of the Derek Chauvin murder trial at the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis on April 19. Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI
Sheridan Lair of Minneapolis, Minn., holds up a sign as she protests in front of the site of the Derek Chauvin murder trial at the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis on April 19. Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI | License Photo

May 1 (UPI) -- Prosecutors are seeking a longer sentence for former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, saying he inflicted "particular cruelty" on George Floyd.

The Minnesota Attorney General's Office argued in a new court filing Friday that Chauvin, who was convicted on murder and manslaughter charges last week, "inflicted gratuitous pain, and caused psychological distress to Mr. Floyd and to the bystanders."

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"Despite Mr. Floyd's repeated pleas that he could not breathe, and despite the repeated pleas of bystanders on the scene, Defendant pressed his knee into Mr. Floyd's neck and upper back for nine minutes and 29 seconds," prosecutors wrote. "As noted, Defendant maintained that position-again, for a matter of minutes, not seconds-even after Mr. Floyd went silent, and even after officers knew that Mr. Floyd no longer had a pulse."

The filing does not recommend a specific sentence, but lists several "aggravating factors" to argue Chauvin should face a longer sentence than Minnesota's guidelines typically recommend.

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They include the fact that Floyd was "particularly vulnerable," that Chauvin acted as part of a group and that the crime was committed in the presence of several children.

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The filing also argued that Chauvin abused his position of authority as a police officer.

Chauvin's attorney, Eric Nelson, also filed a memorandum Friday countering that there were no legal grounds to consider aggravating factors.

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"Because the state has failed to meet its burden of proving the existence of the alleged aggravating factors beyond a reasonable doubt, the court may not consider them in making its sentencing determination," he wrote.

Nelson argued that abusing authority as a police officer is not a valid aggravating factor, and that the factor of minors being present is typically applied in domestic violence situations where children are in the same home and are unable to leave the scene, whereas the children who witnessed Floyd's killing were present voluntarily.

As Chauvin awaits his June 25 sentencing, Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill will review the filings to determine whether aggravating factors exist, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.

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Chauvin was convicted of second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter last week.

Ted Sampsell-Jones, a professor of law at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, has said that if Cahill finds aggravating factors and applies them at sentencing, Chauvin could receive a maximum of 30 years in prison. Should those factors not be applied, he likely faces a 15-year maximum sentence.

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Chauvin's three former colleagues who were at the scene -- J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao -- will be tried together Aug. 23 on charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter, but are currently out on bond.

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Prosecutors will attempt to add a third-degree murder charge for Thao, Lane and Kueng at a Minnesota Court of Appeals hearing scheduled for this month, The Washington Post reported.

Protesters demand justice in police killing of George Floyd

Demonstrators hold a sign in Los Angeles on June 14 for Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was shot by police in her home while she was sleeping. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

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