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Trial of ex-MPD officers Thao, Kueng rescheduled for Oct. 24

Judge Peter Cahill struck a compromise Tuesday, splitting the difference between a state request for a speedy trial and defense concerns about publicity.

MINNEAPOLIS — Editor's Note: The video above originally aired on June 6, 2022.

A new date has been set for the state trial of former Minneapolis police officers Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng, charged for their roles in the death of George Floyd.

Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill heard arguments from defense attorneys Thomas Plunkett and Robert Paule, and prosecutor Matthew Frank on June 21 before setting Oct. 24, 2022 as the day jury selection will begin.  

In court documents filed on Friday, June 17, Minnesota Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank cited the Victim's Rights Act in requesting that Cahill grant a "speedy trial" for Thao and Kueng, and move the scheduled start up from a the proposed Jan. 9, 2023 date. 

During Tuesday's Zoom hearing Frank told the judge that the trial is hanging over Floyd's family and loved ones like a "dark cloud," and said it is "traumatic" to keep pushing the trial out further and further. 

"It is important to understand what this family is going through," Frank insisted. "It (Floyd's death at the hands of former officer Derek Chauvin) was recorded, and they've had to watch it time and time again through the media, and through the trial process." 

The prosecution’s submission comes two weeks after Judge Cahill granted a request from Thao and Kueng's attorneys to delay the proceedings due to pretrial publicity. Cahill previously ordered on June 6 that motions for the officers' trial will begin on Jan. 5, 2023, with jury selection to start Jan. 9.

The state trial was originally set to commence June 13, 2022.

Plunkett, representing former MPD officer J Alexander Kueng, asked during the Zoom hearing to have the trial moved to any time after April, citing a different high-profile trial he will be involved in starting in mid-September. That trial is for Minneapolis police officer Brian Cummings, charged with second-degree manslaughter and criminal vehicular homicide in the death of motorist Leneal Frazier. Prosecutors say Cummings ran a red light while pursuing a suspect the morning of July 6, 2021, and hit Frazier's Jeep at 80 miles per hour.

In a tragic twist Leneal Frazier is the uncle of Darnella Frazier, the teen whose videotape of Floyd's death under the knee of Chauvin was seen around the globe, and played a key role in the former officer's murder conviction.

Plunkett did tell the judge he would be willing to start on Oct. 24, and Thao's attorney Robert Paule said he would be available on that date as well. 

Cahill seized the opportunity to strike a compromise between the two sides, ruling that jury selection would indeed begin Oct. 24, with motions being heard Sept. 26 and 27. He noted that Plunkett indicated in his filings that he would rather surrender his attorney's license than reschedule the Cummings trial. 

Thao and Kueng are both charged with aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter and aiding and abetting second-degree murder in connection with George Floyd's death on May 25, 2020. 

Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis officer who held his knee on Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes, was found guilty of second-degree manslaughter, second-degree murder and third-degree murder in a separate state trial back in April 2021.

Along with fellow ex-officer Thomas Lane, Thao and Kueng were all found guilty of depriving George Floyd of his civil rights in federal court back in February. 

Lane has already entered a guilty plea on his state charges after striking a deal with the state. As part of that agreement Lane will serve three years in a federal facility, to be served concurrently with a federal sentence that has yet to be announced.

On Sunday, June 19, Thomas Plunkett, attorney for J. Alexander Kueng, had filed a motion asking Judge Cahill to delay the trial even further until after April 3, 2023. Plunkett wrote that Kueng informed the court he was "unavailable for trial from January through March 2023" due to a "scheduling conflict of a personal nature."

Watch more on the Trial of Derek Chauvin:

Watch the latest coverage on the death of George Floyd and the trial of Derek Chauvin in our YouTube playlists:

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