The charges against Derek Chavin, a former officer who held a knee to Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, were expanded this week to include more serious second-degree murder cases.
The other three officers – Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng, who helped restrain Floyd, and Tou Thao, who stood nearby – were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder, aiding and abetting second-degree murder.
Second-degree murder, aiding and abetting that crime have a maximum sentence of 40 years, while convicting third-degree murder is a maximum of 25 years.
A murder conviction carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years, as well as aiding and abetting murder.
To prove third-degree murder, prosecutors must show that Chauvin committed “an act extremely dangerous to others and exhibited a perverted mind,” with no intent to kill, but regardless of life.
In addition to a second-degree murder charge, prosecutors would have to prove intent to murder or that the person caused the death while committing the second offense.
CNN legal analyst Elie Honig points out that Minnesota Chief Prosecutor Keith Ellison was smart in adding that he intends to prove what is known as a “murder crime.”
In one video, Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s throat for two minutes and 53 seconds after Floyd became unresponsive.
Leaving the charges of third-degree murder against Chauvin is a comeback. If Chauvin is not convicted in the second instance, he could also be convicted for a lesser trial.
Prosecutors will have to prove something called perverted indifference for Chauvin to be convicted of third-degree murder.
“That means you ignored the risk and did something so dangerous that you knew death could occur,” said Joey Jackson, a CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney.
Accusations of aiding and abetting the other three officials are as serious in Minnesota as committing crimes, Honig wrote, but prosecutors may find it harder to convict them, “because Chauvin’s behavior is more direct and the jury will feel more.”
Prosecutors need to prove that they “knowingly helped Chauvin, even in some small way.”
CNN’s Nicole Chavez contributed to this report.
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