A JUDGE will today pass sentence on the former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd.
Footage of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes in May last year shocked millions around the world and re-ignited the Black Lives Matter movement over perceptions of police brutality and racial injustice.
The publicly televised trial had a worldwide audience and was viewed by many as a test of the fairness of the American justice system – particularly as it applied to African American victims of police brutality.
Alternative theories about the cause of Floyd’s death put forward by the defence were discredited by the medical expert for the prosecution, Dr Martin Tobin, from Co. Kilkenny, who said the notion that carbon monoxide poisoning caused Floyd’s death was “simply wrong.”
The trial garnered much political attention and commentary, including from several senators, as well as the newly inaugurated president, Joe Biden.
Despite the intensity of the media attention, Judge Cahill rejected the defence’s this have prejudiced the jury and denied their request for a mistrial.
The guilty verdict issued on April 20 of this year was seen as a victory for racial and social justice campaigners and was welcomed by Floyd's family.
All eyes will once again be trained on the Minneapolis court room as Judge Peter Cahill hands down his sentence to Chauvin, the first white police officer in Minnesota to be convicted of killing a black man.
He will be sentenced for second-degree murder, his most serious conviction.
Under Minnesota law, Chauvin can expect something between 10 and 15 years as a first-time offender.
But the prosecution can seek anywhere up to 40 years based on “aggravating factors.”
The prosecution has requested a 30-year sentence and it will be up to the judge to weight the aggravating and mitigating factors to decide upon a sentence.
Judge Cahill agreed with prosecutors last month that aggravating factors applied in Chauvin's case.
Those factors included Chauvin's “particular cruelty” towards Floyd, his abuse of a position of “trust and authority” and the presence of children at the scene.
The judge deemed Chauvin’s prolonged kneeling on Floyd’s neck to be "particularly egregious" as the victim could be heard protesting at several points that he could not breathe.
Considering this, legal experts have said a sentence ranging from 20 to 30 years is the most likely outcome.
In his sentencing request to the court, Chauvin’s lawyer Eric Nelson asked for him to be sentenced to the time he has served out while incarcerated since his arrest last year.
Nelson also made a point of highlighting Chauvin's years of service to the community and his cooperation throughout the trial.
Chauvin will have a chance to address the court before he is sentenced later today, Friday 25 June, at around 7.30pm UK/Irish time.
It is unlikely that he will express remorse for his crime as he is seeking a re-trial, and anything said could affect his case going forward.
It is understood that Mr Floyd's family will also make a victim impact statement.