The third week of Derek Chauvin’s trial has ended early, with the defense resting its case, and the court in recess until closing arguments on Monday.
According to the New York Times, day 14 of the trial began with some controversy in the court. Hennepin County Medical Examiner Andrew Baker apparently saw the testimony of Dr. David Fowler on Wednesday. Fowler, a retired forensic pathologist called by the defense, argued that carbon monoxide poisoning may have contributed to George Floyd’s death, despite not seeing any tests or data to back that assertion. Baker called the prosecution and told them that there was data regarding the levels of carbon monoxide in Floyd’s system at the time of death, but it wasn’t included with the initial evidence.
Judge Peter Cahill admonished the prosecution, essentially telling them that they had plenty of time before the trial to have gathered all the proper evidence, and it would be prejudicial against the defense if he allowed them to introduce new evidence so late in the trial.
One of the biggest questions surrounding the defense’s case was whether Derek Chauvin would actually take the stand and testify. That question was finally answered Thursday when Chauvin told the judge he would invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege and not take the stand.
The defense rested its case and the prosecution called pulmonologist Dr. Martin Tobin to the stand to rebut some of Fowler’s testimony. Cahill warned that if any of Tobin’s testimony touched on the new evidence brought forth by Baker it would result in the case being declared a mistrial.
Carefully trying to avoid touching on any of the new evidence, Tobin’s testimony used the evidence already presented to argue why carbon monoxide likely played little to no role in Floyd’s death.
From the New York Times:
During Dr. Fowler’s testimony, he acknowledged that he had not seen any testing of Mr. Floyd’s blood that showed carbon monoxide poisoning, but said he believed that Mr. Floyd’s carboxyhemoglobin, the combination of carbon monoxide and hemoglobin, could have increased by 10 to 18 percent because he was behind restrained near the exhaust pipe of a police squad car.
During his rebuttal testimony, Dr. Tobin said that the idea that carbon monoxide caused Mr. Floyd’s death was “simply wrong.” Tests performed by Hennepin County after his death showed that Mr. Floyd had a 98 percent oxygen saturation, Dr. Tobin said.
That means the maximum amount of carboxyhemoglobin in his blood could not have been greater than 2 percent, he said, which is “within the normal range.”
After Tobin’s brief rebuttal, Judge Cahill told the jury that “The evidence is now complete for this case.” The prosecution and the defense will make their closing arguments on Monday, after which the jury will be sequestered while they deliberate their verdict. It’s unknown how long it will take the jury to decide their verdict, with Cahill telling the jurors to “plan for long and hope for short,” when it comes to the deliberation process.