Trial for two former cops charged in George Floyd’s death delayed until 2023

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(MINNEAPOLIS) — The state trial for two former Minneapolis police officers charged in George Floyd’s death was delayed until next year by a judge, who said a recent plea deal accepted by a third officer charged in the fatal arrest of the 46-year-old Black man could create the “reasonable likelihood of an unfair trial.”

Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill ordered that the trial for Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng will be delayed until Jan. 5, 2023.

Thao and Kueng were expected to go on trial together beginning on June 13.

Both men are charged with aiding and abetting in murder and aiding and abetting in manslaughter.

Cahill denied a motion from defense attorneys for a change of venue, but cited two recent events in his decision to postpone the trial.

The judge noted that pretrial publicity over the plea deal struck with a third defendant, former Minneapolis police officer Thomas Lane, and the convictions in February of Lane, Thao and Kueng on federal civil rights charges, could make it difficult at this time to select an impartial jury.

“These two recent events and the publicity surrounding them are significant in [that] it could make it more difficult for jurors to presume Thao and Kueng innocent of the state charges,” Cahill wrote in his ruling.

The judge added that postponing the trial should “diminish the impact of this publicity on the defendants’ right and ability to receive a fair trial from an impartial and unbiased jury.”

Lane pleaded guilty in May to aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. In exchange for the plea, state prosecutors agreed to dismiss the top charge against him of aiding and abetting second-degree unintentional murder.

Under the agreement, prosecutors and Lane’s attorneys will jointly recommend a sentence of 36 months in prison. Had he gone to trial and been convicted on all charges, he faced a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison, according to the plea agreement.

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