Defense continues presenting case in Chauvin trial; judge denies motion for acquittal Wednesday morning

Updated: April 14, 2021 04:34 PM
Created: April 14, 2021 06:40 AM

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12:30 p.m.

The defense finishes with questioning regarding Fowler. The court will go into recess until 1:30 p.m.

11:15 a.m.

The court has reconvened. 

 Fowler is claiming that the exhaust pipe that was close to Floyd's face was also a contributing factor to his death. 

Fowler, a former chief medical examiner for the state of Maryland and now a member of a consulting firm, said the fentanyl and methamphetamine in Floyd's system, and possible carbon monoxide poisoning from auto exhaust, were contributing factors. He said Floyd's heart disease included high blood pressure and narrowing of the arteries.

"All of those combined to cause Mr. Floyd's death," he said on the second day of the defense case.

Nelson asked Fowler about Floyd's narrowed arteries, enlarged heart, use of methamphetamine, the stress of the situation he was in, his high blood pressure and other factors. Fowler said all of them could have caused Floyd's heart to work harder and led it to suddenly stop.

Previous witnesses have noted that a sudden heart rhythm problem does not necessarily produce visible signs on autopsy but can be inferred from circumstances such as a victim suddenly clutching one's chest and collapsing.

Fowler handled a case similar to Floyd's in Maryland in 2018, when a 19-year-old Black man, Anton Black, died after three officers and a civilian pinned him for more than five minutes as they handcuffed him and shackled his legs.

The family brought a federal lawsuit that included Fowler, whose autopsy found that the stress of the struggle probably contributed to Black's death but found no evidence that restraint directly caused it. It also found no evidence of asphyxia.

He stated that Floyd died of a "cardiac arrhythmia, due to hypertensive atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease during the restraint."

9:15 a.m.

The defense calls its first witness to the stand, Dr. David Fowler. He is a forensic pathologist and worked at a medical examiner's office in Maryland and now serves as a consultant. 

Fowler is from Cape Town, South Africa. 

Fowler notes he was approached by Nelson and asked to be a part of the case. "There were 13 peer reviewers ... that were involved in this case," he said, noting the forensic panel was involved. 

He is also a member of the National Association of Medical Examiners

Regarding this case, Fowler says he reviewed medical records, ambulance records, police records, toxicology information, body-worn camera footage, surveillance footage, bystander videos, and the autopsy. 

"There is a substantial amount of information in this case," he said. 

Fowler claims Floyd's heart condition and drug use contributed to his sudden death. 

Fowler is walking through how a heart works and how it relates to this case. 

With the defense still questioning Fowler, Cahill puts the court in a 10-minute recess as of 10:49 a.m. 

8:50 a.m.

Wednesday began with attorneys and Judge Peter Cahill gathering to discuss motions.

Defense attorney Eric Nelson made a motion to offer a judgment of acquittal in the case, saying the state failed to present sufficient evidence on use-of-force and the cause of George Floyd's death.

Cahill denied the motion.

The defense will continue presenting its case Wednesday in the trial of former officer Derek Chauvin.

The defense began presenting its case Tuesday after 11 days of prosecution testimony.

Tuesday, a use-of-force expert said Chauvin was justified in pinning George Floyd to the ground because he kept struggling. 

The witness, Barry Brodd, testified Tuesday for the defense at Chauvin's murder trial. 

He contradicted a parade of authorities from both inside and outside the Minneapolis police force who said Floyd used excessive force and violated his training. 

At one point he suggested that if Floyd was being compliant, he would have had both hands in the small of his back, “and just be resting comfortably.” 

That prompted an incredulous response from the prosecutor, who said Floyd was moving because he was struggling to breathe by shoving his shoulder into the pavement.

Legal analyst breaks down first day of defense testimony in Chauvin trial

Trial will resume Wednesday morning.

KSTP's complete trial coverage

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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