A Minnesota court overturned the murder conviction of an ex-cop who killed an Australian woman - but it's unlikely to affect Derek Chauvin
Derek Chauvin watches his attorney deliver his closing argument. CourtTV / pool camera
The Minnesota Supreme Court overturned a third degree murder conviction against a former Minneapolis police officer.
The verdict is unlikely to have any ramifications for Derek Chauvin, who was convicted of the same crime.
Chauvin had also been convicted of a more serious second degree murder.
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The Minnesota Supreme Court on Wednesday overturned a murder conviction against former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor, convicted of the murder and manslaughter in the murder of Justine Ruszczyk in 2017.
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The verdict could have repercussions for Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who was convicted in April of the murder of George Floyd.
Noor was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for the first time in 2018, months after Ruszczyk's death. Ruszczyk, an Australian-American woman who lived in Minneapolis in 2017, had called 911 to report a possible sexual assault near her home. Noor, who later stated that he was startled by a noise while answering the call, shot through the window of his patrol car and killed Ruszczyk.
A jury found Noor guilty of both murder and manslaughter in 2019. Noor was sentenced to 12 1/2 years for murder, but the judge did not convict him of manslaughter. The city of Minneapolis separately paid Ruszczyk's family $ 20 million in a settlement.
In its opinion released Wednesday, the Minnesota Supreme Court found that Noor Ruszczyk did not kill with "the state of mind necessary to murder corrupt thoughts" and that the evidence "is insufficient to support his conviction." "in the murder charge.
The court ordered a Minnesota district court to instead convict Noor of third degree manslaughter. According to the Associated Press, Noor's alleged manslaughter prison sentence - which Noor did not contest on his appeal - would be four years, allowing him to qualify for a supervised release before the end of 2021.
Prosecutors had cited an appeals court ruling in Noor's case to provide legal grounds for third-degree murder charges against Chauvin. Chauvin was sentenced to 22 1/2 years in prison in June after a jury found him guilty of second degree murder, third degree murder and manslaughter.
The state Supreme Court ruling on Wednesday now gives Chauvin an opportunity to challenge his conviction of third degree murder in court. However, to challenge his entire 22 1/2 year sentence, Chauvin would have to successfully overturn the second-degree murder conviction, which carries the harshest sentence. Legal experts told the Associated Press that such an appeal had little chance of success.
However, the ruling could narrow additional charges against Chauvin's police colleagues who were present during the Floyd murder. Prosecutors charged Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao of complicity in second degree murder and had considered adding a charge of complicity in third degree murder as well. According to the Associated Press, prosecutors are now less likely to bring the additional charges.
Lane, Keung and Thao have all pleaded guilty to charges against them and are expected to be tried in March 2022.
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Former US police officer who murdered George Floyd
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