The friend and alleged drug dealer of George Floyd who was present in Floyd’s vehicle during an arrest gone wrong has been excused from testifying at the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, the judge decided on Wednesday. The decision is being described as a setback in the former Minneapolis police officer’s defense.
Morries Hall, who stated that he would appeal to his constitutional Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination if asked to testify, has every right to not take the stand, Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill decided at the beginning of the trial’s thirteenth day.
“I am finding that he has complete Fifth Amendment privilege here,” Cahill stated after speaking with Hall.
“It’s not just evidence that would incriminate a person but also a link to incriminating evidence,” he decided. “I do find that his invocation of his Fifth Amendment rights is valid and therefore I am going to quash the subpoena.”
Chauvin’s attorney had pushed for Hall to be called as a witness to elaborate on remarks to investigators that Floyd fell asleep in the car, supposedly after using illegal drugs.
The attorney for Hall, Adrienne Cousins, contended that her client could be incriminating himself for a charge of third-degree murder, as well as drug charges, if he testified before the court.
Under Minnesota law, Hall could be held liable for Floyd’s death if he supplied his longtime pal with drugs and it is found that the drugs were a factor in his passing.
“To summarize, Mr. Hall cannot answer any of the questions that defense put forward,” Cousins said to the judge in court on Wednesday.
“Mr. Hall cannot put himself in that car with Mr. Floyd,” she insisted. “Again, this is a car that was searched twice and drugs were recovered twice. If Mr. Hall puts himself in that car, he exposes himself to constructive possession charges.”
On May 25, 2020 Hall was present in Floyd’s SUV when cops attempted to take Floyd in custody for reportedly using a counterfeit $20 bill at a convenience store.
The attorneys for Chauvin were also hoping to question Hall about why he gave police officers a fake name, as well as ask him about an item he supposedly threw out of his backpack. The defense also hoped to dig into Hall’s reasons for fleeing Minnesota after Floyd’s death.
During George Floyd’s autopsy, coroners said they discovered a possibly lethal dose of fentanyl, among other drugs, in his system. Floyd’s girlfriend, Courteney Ross, took the stand during the early stages of the trial and testified that Floyd had bought drugs from Hall in the past.
In Tuesday’s testimony, the other person who was with Floyd in the SUV, Shawanda Hill, said under oath that Floyd did drift in and out of sleep more than once before the police approached his car.
Additionally on Wednesday, Cahill denied a move for dismissal by Chauvin’s lawyer Eric Nelson on the grounds that prosecutors had not proven their case.
The motion for dismissal was quickly shot down by the judge, which is emblematic at trials such as this.
Forty-five-year-old former police officer Chauvin is on trial for charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death.
Anti-police rioters, extremist groups such as Black Lives Matter, and even domestic terror groups such as Antifa have led a mob of civil unrest in Minnesota and major cities around the US for over a year since Floyd’s death. The violent demonstrations have already caused over $2 billion in property damage, led to thousands of arrests, and resulted in more than 30 deaths.