Defense attorney Caitlinrose Fisher argued that the statutory language, backed by case law, requires that a defendant’s actions be directed at more than one person, and that the law is meant for cases such as indiscriminate killings.
But Hennepin County prosecutor Jean Burdorf cited other cases, including a February decision from the Minnesota Court of Appeals that affirmed Noor's conviction. Those cases held that "others" could mean just one person. She asked the justices to make the law clear because the proper interpretation has become unclear amid conflicting rulings over the years.
HOW THE RULING COULD AFFECT THE EX-OFFICERS CHARGED IN FLOYD'S DEATH:
Derek Chauvin was convicted in April of second- and third-degree murder, plus second-degree manslaughter. The white former Minneapolis police officer pinned Floyd to the pavement for close to 9 1/2 minutes in May 2020 as the Black man said he couldn't breathe and went motionless. Floyd's death, captured on widely seen bystander video, sparked worldwide protests and a national reckoning on racial justice.
Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill will sentence Chauvin on June 25 on just the most serious charge. Prosecutors have asked for 30 years in prison; the defense has asked for probation and time already served. Cahill last fall threw out the third-degree murder charge, but reinstated it in light of the Court of Appeals' ruling on Noor.
If the Supreme Court voids Noor's conviction for the reasons debated Wednesday, Chauvin would have grounds for contesting his conviction on the third-degree murder count. But it wouldn't affect Chauvin's sentence unless he also succeeds in his own appeal of his second-degree murder conviction. A decision in favor of Noor would have had a bigger impact on Chauvin's case if Chauvin had been acquitted on the most serious charge, but it stuck.
Prosecutors have asked the Court of Appeals to allow them to add charges against the three other ex-officers of aiding and abetting third-degree murder, who are due to stand trial in March. They're already charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter.
Adding the lesser count could increase the odds of prosecutors getting convictions, but the count also carries lower sentences. Under Minnesota law, aiding and abetting carries the same sentence as the underlying crime itself.
WHAT COULD HAPPEN TO NOOR IF HE WINS:
Noor isn’t contesting his conviction on the lesser charge of second-degree manslaughter. Fisher urged the justices to send the case back to the trial court for resentencing on that count alone.
While Noor was sentenced to 12 1/2 years on the murder count, which matched the prison term recommended by the state’s sentencing guidelines, those guidelines recommend just four years for the manslaughter count.
Find AP's full coverage of the death of George Floyd: https://apnews.com/hub/death-of-george-floyd
FILE - This combination of photos provided by the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office in Minnesota on Wednesday, June 3, 2020, shows from left, former Minneapolis police Officers J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao. A more detailed trial schedule for three former Minneapolis police officers charged with aiding and abetting in the death of George Floyd has been set for next March, according to an order made public Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Last month, a judge pushed the trial of Lane, Kueng and Thao out to next March, in part because he wanted publicity from the trial of ex-officer Derek Chauvin to cool down, and partly to allow a federal case against the officers to go forward first. (Hennepin County Sheriff's Office via AP File)
FILE - In this Friday, June 7, 2019, file photo, former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor walks to the podium to be sentenced at Hennepin County District Court in Minneapolis. The Minnesota Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Wednesday, June 9, 2021, in Noor's case, who was convicted of third-degree murder in the shooting death of an Australian woman who had called 911 to report a possible sexual assault behind her home. (Leila Navidi/Star Tribune via AP, Pool, File)
Credit: Leila Navidi
Credit: Leila Navidi