Derek Chauvin Murder Trial: 3rd Degree Murder Charge Reinstated in Killing of George Floyd

Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill had earlier thrown out the third-degree charge, saying it didn't apply in this case.

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin now faces an additional criminal count after a judge reinstated a third-degree murder charge on Thursday in the killing of Black resident George Floyd.

Chauvin already faced second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter counts in Floyd's death. Jury selection began Tuesday under extraordinary security measures.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who is leading the prosecution, released a statement following the ruling.

“The charge of third-degree murder, in addition to manslaughter and felony murder, reflects the gravity of the allegations against Mr. Chauvin. We look forward to presenting all three charges to the jury,” he said.

Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill initially dismissed the additional count in October, saying it did not apply to the circumstances of this case. The third-degree  charge, sometimes known as "depraved mind" murder, requires a lower standard of proof than second-degree, CBS News reported.

Prosecutors asked Cahill to reinstate the count after an unrelated case ruling this week in state appellate court established precedent in applying third-degree murder charges.

It is unclear whether the additional charge will delay the scheduled start of testimony on March 29. Thus far, five jurors have been seated. The attorneys will ultimately decide on 12 panelists and four alternates.

Cahill has allowed the trial to be livestreamed online — a first in the state’s history. Plexiglass in the jury box had to be moved because it was possible to see the reflection of the potential jurors.

Inside Edition spoke with famed jury consultant Dr. Jo-Ellan Dimitrius, who says it will be a challenge to select open-minded jurors.

“It is going to be extremely difficult to find a jury in this case that hasn't heard or seen the video,” Dimitrus said.

“There will be tremendous pressure on each one of these jurors, no matter how the deliberations come back,” she added.

Prospective jurors filled out a 16-page questionnaire, which included questions like, “Did you, or someone close to you, participate in any of the demonstrations or marches against police brutality that took place in Minneapolis after George Floyd's death?" and “Have you ever personally seen the police use more force than was needed?”

They were also asked what they thought about the Black Lives Matter movement.

Protesters have peacefully marched outside of the courthouse demanding justice for Floyd, who died last May after Chauvin kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest for allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill at a Minneapolis convenience store.

Cellphone video taken by a bystander showed onlookers shouting for officers to get off Floyd, who was handcuffed behind his back and lying prone on the asphalt.

Chauvin is being tried separately from three other former Minneapolis police officers charged in connection with Floyd’s death. The trial is expected to last from two to four weeks. If convicted, Chauvin could face up to 40 years in prison.