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Former MPD officers turn down plea deal, move toward October trial

Both Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng rejected the state deal, which called for a 36-month prison sentence to be served at the same time as their federal sentences.

MINNEAPOLIS — Two former Minneapolis police officers are moving ahead toward an October state trial for their roles in the death of George Floyd, after turning down a plea offer from prosecutors during a hearing Monday.

Proceedings began with attorneys for both Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng requesting to hold the plea discussions in chambers rather than in open court, with Thao's attorney Robert Pauley saying potential jurors could be influenced. KARE 11's Kiya Edwards was in court for the hearing, and reports that Hennepin County Circuit Court Judge Peter Cahill denied both that motion and a request for a gag order on the proceedings. 

Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank outlined a deal extended by the state that would have both Thao and Kueng plead guilty to a single count of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter in exchange for a 36-month sentence. That sentence would be served at the same time as the federal sentences both men received after being found guilty of depriving Floyd of his civil rights. 

RELATED: Ex-officers Kueng, Thao sentenced to federal prison for violating George Floyd's civil rights

Speaking in court Monday both Thao and Kueng declined the state offer. "It would be a lie and a sin for me to accept," said Thao. 

In May, fellow ex-officer Thomas Lane agreed to the state's offer, pleading guilty to aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter in exchange for the same three-year state sentence offered to Thao and Kueng. As part of the agreement, Lane will serve his time in a federal facility. 

Frank made clear to the defendants that the settlement offer is now off the table, with both men facing the potential of a far longer sentence. The veteran prosecutor said each could receive 150 months (12 1/2 years) on a count of aiding and abetting second-degree murder, and another 48 months (four years) if convicted of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. Both Kueng and Thao said they understood. 

The 15-minute hearing wound up with Judge Cahill scheduling motions hearings for Oct. 6 and 7, with the state trial of Thao and Kueng set to begin on Oct. 24. 

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