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George Floyd’s pal Morries Hall has the right to invoke the Fifth, judge says

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George Floyd’s longtime pal who was in Floyd’s SUV during his fatal arrest by Minneapolis police will not have to testify at the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, a judge ruled Wednesday — in a blow to the ex-cop’s defense.

Morries Hall, who said he would invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination if called to the stand, has the right to do so, Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill ruled at the start of the 13th day of the trial.

“I am finding that he has complete Fifth Amendment privilege here,” Cahill said after questioning Hall.

“It’s not just evidence that would incriminate a person but also a link to incriminating evidence,” he said. “I do find that his invocation of his Fifth Amendment rights is valid and therefore I am going to quash the subpoena.”

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Chauvin’s lawyer wanted to call Hall to the stand to expand on comments he made to investigators that Floyd fell asleep in the car — presumably after taking drugs.

A judge is allowing Morries Hall to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination if called to the stand during the trial of Derek Chauvin.
A judge is allowing Morries Hall to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination if called to the stand during the trial of Derek Chauvin.
Court TV via AP

But Hall’s lawyer, Adrienne Cousins, argued that her client could open himself up to a third-degree murder charge and drug charges if he took the stand.

Under Minnesota law, if Hall provided his friend drugs and the drugs contributed to his death, he could also be held liable. 

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Ex-police officers Derek Chauvin and J. Alexander Kueng (left) restrain George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25, 2020.
Ex-police officers Derek Chauvin and J. Alexander Kueng (left) restrain George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25, 2020.
via REUTERS

“To summarize, Mr. Hall cannot answer any of the questions that defense put forward,” Cousins told the judge in court Wednesday.

Morries Hall was in the car with George Floyd before he died, on May 25, 2020.
Morries Hall was in the car with George Floyd before he died, on May 25, 2020.
Minneapolis Police

“Mr. Hall cannot put himself in that car with Mr. Floyd,” she said. “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 posession charges.”

Hall was in Floyd’s SUV on May 25 when police sought to arrest Floyd for allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill at a local convenience store.

In testimony Tuesday, the other person in the vehicle, Shawanda Hill, testified that he did nod off several times before police knocked on the window.

Also Wednesday, Cahill denied a motion by Chauvin attorney Eric Nelson to dismiss the case because, he said, prosecutors had failed to prove their case.

The judge quicklly denied the motion, which is typical at trials.

Chauvin, 45, is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death.

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