Chauvin trial judge rejects request to rewrite sentencing order

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – The Minnesota judge who oversaw Derek Chauvin’s trial rejects prosecutors’ request to rewrite his sentencing order in relation to the four girls who saw George Floyd’s death, saying Tuesday they have may have been emotionally traumatized but the state has failed to prove it.

Attorney General Keith Ellison wrote last week that he was not seeking to change Chauvin’s 22-and-a-half-year sentence, but he asked Judge Peter Cahill to change his sentencing order to remove suggestions that the teens and the girl were not traumatized. He cited research showing that children treat trauma differently from adults and that adults tend to ignore the impact of trauma on black girls.

Cahill rejected that request on Tuesday, saying Ellison’s misinterpretation of his sentencing order and the “tone and substance” of Ellison’s request needed a response. Cahill wrote that he never said the four girls were not traumatized, but instead said the evidence at trial showed no “objective evidence of trauma.”

“It is certainly possible that the witnesses suffered some level of emotional trauma as a result of this incident, but the state has failed to prove it,” Cahill wrote. need protection, no evidence of this was presented prior to Chauvin’s conviction.

“Either way, it is the state that is injecting so-called racial presumptions into this case, not this Court,” Cahill wrote. He said his sentencing order never mentioned the girls’ race or ethnicity. He said the youngest, who was 9 at the time, and his then-17-year-old cousin are black, but the other two teenagers, who are now 18, are white.

“That the ‘adulteration’ of ‘black girls’ is, as the State points out, ‘common in American society, including the criminal justice system,’ this Court categorically rejects the implication that it played a role in the court’s decision on sentencing, ”Cahill said. wrote.

He also said that although Ellison complains that the court did not hold a separate sentencing hearing, prosecutors had the right to request one but did not.

Ellison’s office said Tuesday it was reviewing the judge’s order.

As part of his sentencing order, Cahill noted that he had previously found aggravating factors that enabled him to sentence Chauvin to 10 years more than the alleged sentence under state guidelines for determining worth it. He wrote that two of these factors warranted a heavier sentence: Chauvin’s abuse of his position of trust or authority as an officer, and his particularly cruel treatment of Floyd.

Cahill also found that the presence of children at the scene was an aggravating factor, but did not warrant a longer sentence. He agreed with the defense that the girls were free to leave at any time and said prosecution evidence did not establish that they had been traumatized. He noted that two of them were seen smiling and laughing as officers kept Floyd grounded.

But Ellison wrote that Darnella Frazier, who shot a widely shared social media video of Floyd’s detention, collapsed crying at the stand while Alyssa Funari testified she couldn’t return on the scene since.

“This evidence supports a common sense conclusion: After witnessing a brutal police murder within minutes, the children suffered trauma,” Ellison wrote last week.

Cahill said the court is constrained in a way that “the media, the expert class and prosecutors are not.” He wrote that he cannot act on the basis of personal opinions, hypotheses or presumptions, but has a duty to apply the law to the evidence and facts of the case and to impose a rational and just sentence which contributes to the promotion of public safety and which is proportionate. the seriousness of the offense.

He said that during the sentencing he explicitly stated that Chauvin’s sentence was not intended to “send a message”.

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