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Derek Chauvin To Be Sentenced For George Floyd's Murder


Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who was convicted two months ago of murdering George Floyd, will be sentenced today. He has been in solitary confinement since his conviction. Today he will go before a judge.

NPR's Adrian Florido is in Minneapolis. Good morning, Adrian.

ADRIAN FLORIDO, BYLINE: Good morning, Noel.

KING: What kind of sentence could Derek Chauvin get?

FLORIDO: Well, it's important to note that although he was convicted on two murder charges and a manslaughter charge, under Minnesota law, he'll only be sentenced on the most serious count, second-degree unintentional murder. It carries a 40-year maximum. But because Chauvin has no criminal record, the state guidelines recommend 12 1/2 years. The prosecution, though, has asked Judge Peter Cahill for a 30-year sentence, while Chauvin's attorney has requested just probation with no prison time.

KING: Probation with no prison time is the request from Chauvin's attorney. How likely is that?

FLORIDO: It's very unlikely if you consider that last month, Judge Cahill accepted an argument from prosecutors that there were several aggravating factors in the case that made Chauvin eligible for a longer sentence, one of those being that his crime was essentially an abuse of government authority. So most experts and lawyers here in town think the judge will sentence Chauvin to more than the 12 1/2 years that state guidelines recommend.

KING: And when you go around Minneapolis and talk to people, what are they telling you that they want to see?

FLORIDO: Well, yesterday, I swung by the intersection where George Floyd was killed. And everyone I spoke there told me that Chauvin deserves a longer sentence.

This is Robert Gray.

ROBERT GRAY: Even 30 years wouldn't bring back George Floyd. Plus, even if he get out in 30 years, he still have a life that he can still enjoy. If he just gets probation, that's - that would be a big insult to the Floyd family.

FLORIDO: I also spoke with Kayla Gardner. She said, if Chauvin does get a short sentence or just probation...

KAYLA GARDNER: This whole thing is going to start all over with people rioting. So I would advise those that's in charge sentencing him to really consider what message they're going to be sending if they give him probation and let him walk.

FLORIDO: And so clearly, Noel, you know, even though a sentence of probation is very unlikely, people still feel that they could be, you know, let down by the justice system here.

KING: So during the sentencing this afternoon, what can we expect to see? Will it be like the trial where there's cameras there?

FLORIDO: It will be televised. Derek Chauvin will be in court. Members of his family will also be allowed, and so will members of George Floyd's family. They're all going to get a chance to address the judge, make their case for why Chauvin deserves either a shorter or longer sentence. Then the judge will make his decision. A lot of experts are most eager to hear what Judge Peter Cahill has to say when he explains the reasons for his decision.

So listen to what Brock Hunter, a prominent Minneapolis defense attorney, told me.

BROCK HUNTER: We don't really have a sense of what his opinion about all of this is. The judge never really renders any opinion regarding the evidence during trial. And it's really not until sentencing that you get an insight into what the judge's true, personal feelings about a case are.

FLORIDO: So everyone's going to be listening very closely to his words today.

KING: Derek Chauvin didn't testify during the trial, but you said that he will have an opportunity to today if he wants it. Do you get the impression that he will?

FLORIDO: Under normal circumstances, he probably would because he would need to make his case for why he deserves leniency. But he still faces a federal criminal case. And so he may stay silent to avoid incriminating himself.

KING: OK. NPR's Adrian Florido in Minneapolis. Thanks, Adrian.

FLORIDO: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Adrian Florido
Adrian Florido is a national correspondent for NPR covering race and identity in America.