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Judge In Chauvin Trial Rules That Underage Witnesses Can Testify

In this image from video, Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill discusses motions before the court on Tuesday in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn.
In this image from video, Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill discusses motions before the court on Tuesday in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn.

On the second day of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's murder trial, the judge considered a motion about the testimony of minors — including a witness whose video of the killing of George Floyd was seen around the world.

Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill was asked to determine whether the court would permit broadcast of minors or former minors set to testify in the case. The high-profile trial is the first in Minnesota history to be televised.

Cahill ruled in favor of prosecutors that no television images would be allowed during the testimony of people who were under 18 at the time they saw Floyd die, but audio of their testimony would be allowed.

The hearing centered on at least four people whose names would be kept confidential and off livestreaming during their testimony.

The judge agreed with Leita Walker, the attorney representing the media coalition covering the trial, that the First Amendment allows for the press to decide whether to publish names of the witnesses who are minors. He said an option is to refer to the individuals by their first names only if the witnesses are comfortable with that.

A key eyewitness in the case, referred to in court Tuesday as D.F. , was 17 when she took the bystander video with a mobile phone. The images taken by D.F. showed Chauvin kneeling on the neck of Floyd, who was prone and handcuffed for nearly nine minutes. Floyd was also still handcuffed on the stretcher when paramedics arrived.

Chauvin is charged with second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Witness testimony resumed at 9:15 a.m. local time, including testimony by eyewitness Donald Williams, a pro martial arts fighter. He said he called 911 "to call the police on the police" after officers at the scene didn't respond to his shouting and swearing for Chauvin to take his knee off Floyd's neck.

From the stand, Williams has described a variety of chokeholds, including what he called a "blood choke" used on Floyd.

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