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Opening statements in Chauvin trial set to begin Monday

Plus: family of George Floyd hosts Minneapolis vigil on eve of trial; mass tort case over 3M earplugs begins in Florida; three Minnesota teams make NCAA men’s Frozen Four; and more.

Protesters and activists march the day before opening statements in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, in Minneapolis.
Protesters and activists march the day before opening statements in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, in Minneapolis.
REUTERS/Octavio Jones

WCCO-TV’s Esme Murphy writes: “Monday, the trial of Derek Chauvin will begin with jury instructions, opening statements and testimony. Most of the jurors said going into the trial they had negative impressions of Chauvin, impressions they will set aside during the trial. But that raises the question what will the defense and prosecution strategies be. The defense in the Chauvin trial is expected to lean heavily on their expert medical witness, who is expected to testify that George Floyd’s death was not a murder — that he died because of pre-existing health conditions and drugs in his system.”

In the Star Tribune, Chao Xiong writes: “What killed George Floyd during an encounter with Minneapolis police last May is at the heart of the trial of former officer Derek Chauvin, which resumes Monday morning with opening statements and the start of witness testimony. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Floyd’s cause of death cardiac arrest, Floyd’s family attorneys believe he died of asphyxiation and Chauvin’s attorney has argued that he succumbed to a drug overdose and pre-existing health issues.”

For The Guardian, Amudalat Ajasa and Richard Luscombe write, “The city of Minneapolis and millions across the US and around the world are bracing for Monday’s opening arguments in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the white former police officer charged with murdering George Floyd, who was Black, in the city last May. … Keith Mayes, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota’s Department of African American and African studies, said a conviction was necessary for policing to be reformed. ‘Everything is riding on the outcome of the trial,’ he said.”

FOX 9 reports: “A vigil hosted by Reverend Al Sharpton and the family of George Floyd Sunday night in Minneapolis honored the life of George Floyd, ahead of opening statements in the trial of one of the police officers charged in his death. Reverend Sharpton, Floyd family attorney Ben Crump, and members of the George Floyd family gathered Sunday night at Greater Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, just blocks away from the spot where George Floyd died at 38th and Chicago. The gathering to honor Floyd comes just hours before attorneys, jurors, and Judge Cahill will gather at the Hennepin County Courthouse on Monday morning for opening statements in the case of Derek Chauvin, the first former Minneapolis police officer to stand trial in Floyd’s death.”

For Bring Me The News, Declan Desmond reports, “A popular Minneapolis brewery is publicly severing ties with Sean Tillmann, better known by his stage name Har Mar Superstar, following the airing of multiple sexual harassment and assault allegations against the singer.  Modist Brewing, located in the North Loop, has had multiple collaborations with Tillmann over the years, even naming one of its beers after him in 2018. On Saturday, the company posted the following on Twitter (warning: strong language ahead): Calling the behavior described in the allegations ‘shocking, disappointing, and f—–g disgusting,’ the brewery says it stands by the survivors, and that it will be ‘scrubbing all our platforms as well as making sure anything else cobranded that might be hanging around the brewery finds its place into a dumpster fire.’”

For the Star Tribune, Mike Hughlett says, “The first trial in one of the largest U.S. mass torts ever kicks off Monday with 3M defending itself against claims that its Combat Arms earplugs were knowingly defective, harming the hearing of tens of thousands of soldiers. 3M became a giant in the military earplug market when it bought Aearo Technologies in 2008. The Maplewood-based company maintains that Combat Arms plugs were designed properly and worked as they should. The size of the earplug litigation — nearly 230,000 claims are pending before a federal court in Pensacola, Fla. — dwarfs most mass torts. The case is being closely watched in legal circles.”

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A WCCO-TV story says, “The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for counties across Minnesota starting Monday. The warning applies to the following counties: Becker, Beltrami, Big Stone, Cass, Chippewa, Clay, Clearwater, Cottonwood, Crow Wing, Douglas, Grant, Hubbard, Itasca, Jackson, Kandiyohi, Kittson, Koochiching, Lac Qui Parle, Lake Of The Woods, Lincoln, Lyon, Mahnomen, Marshall, Meeker, Morrison, Murray, Nobles, Norman, Otter Tail, Pennington, Pipestone, Polk, Pope, Red Lake, Redwood, Renville, Rock, Roseau, Stearns, Stevens, Swift, Todd, Traverse, Wadena, Wilkin and Yellow Medicine. Residents are advised not to burn anything outside … .”

For the Park Rapids Enterprise, David Olson writes, “As recently as the early 2000s, North Dakota had less than a dozen active bald eagle nesting sites in the state. The number of nesting sites today is around 300, and it is not unusual to see the majestic birds in the skies above North Dakota, particularly in prime habitat area along the Missouri River in western North Dakota and the Red River on the eastern edge of the state. Minnesota, too, experienced a boom in bald eagle numbers over the past decade. … The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently reported bald eagle numbers nationwide have quadrupled since 2009, growing to 71,400 nesting pairs and a total eagle population of about 316,000.”

Gordon Severson for KARE-TV says, “The Twin Cities housing market is red hot right now with too many buyers and not enough homes for sale. … Last year there were more than twice as many homes on the market. Prices have also gone up by more than 10% over the last year. ‘Statewide homes are selling for about 99% of asking price, so some are getting a slight deal, but more homes are selling over asking right now,’ Galler says.”

ESPN reports on the men’s NCAA hockey tournament: “The Frozen Four is set, and it includes three schools from Minnesota. On April 8, St. Cloud State will face Minnesota State at 5 p.m. ET …. The winner will play UMass or Minnesota Duluth, who play at 9 p.m. ET …. The national title game is scheduled April 10. On Sunday, Minnesota State beat Minnesota 4-0 to eliminate the final top seed in the tournament. St. Cloud State beat Boston College, another top seed, 4-1 to advance to the tournament semifinals on Sunday.”