Minneapolis Judge Peter Cahill, who oversaw Derek Chauvin’s murder trial, issued a ruling on Wednesday that could significantly increase the amount of time the former police officer spends behind bars, reports the New York Times. Cahill said prosecutors had proven that Chauvin had abused his position of trust and authority, treated George Floyd with particular cruelty, and committed his crime in the presence of children and with the active participation of at least three other people. These aggravating factors of the case allow Cahill to sentence Chauvin to more than 15 years in prison, the longest punishment for second-degree murder under Minnesota’s sentencing guidelines, or even longer if he so chooses. State statutes allow the judge to sentence Chauvin to a maximum of 40 years, although legal experts say it is highly unlikely that he will receive more than 30 years.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports that attorneys for the three Minnesota police officers awaiting trial for their hand in Floyd’s killing are requesting in pretrial arguments that prosecutors be sanctioned after media reports that Chauvin had planned to plead guilty a year ago, and allegations that they haven’t disclosed information about the alleged coercion of a witness. Attorneys for Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao have said they want the court to require prosecuting attorneys to submit affidavits under oath that they aren’t responsible for the leak to the media. In a filing late Wednesday, Thao’s attorney also alleged that the Hennepin County medical examiner was coerced to include “neck compression” in his findings and that prosecutors knew about it. Attorney General Keith Ellison, whose office is prosecuting the officers, has said allegations that his office was involved in a leak are false. Lane, Kueng and Thao are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.