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3:55 p.m.: Examiner offers differing view before being excused
Dr. Andrew Baker appeared on Friday to weigh the role that drugs played in George Floyd's death more heavily than did other medical experts who testified in the trial of Derek Chauvin.
The medical examiner for Hennepin County said his final conclusion, that Floyd died when his heart and respiratory system stopped as he was being restrained by Minneapolis police officers, was unchanged.
"That was my top line then, it would stay my top line now," he said.
But the drugs found in Floyd's body during the autopsy he performed, in addition to Floyd's heart conditions, Baker said, were contributing causes. His assessment differs from that of other medical expert witness, who were more dismissive in their testimony of the role that they played in the case.
Baker was the last witness to be called on Friday. Court recessed for the weekend at around 4 p.m., with plans to resume 9:30 a.m. Monday morning, April 12.
2:50 p.m.: Medical examiner describes autopsy findings
Dr. Andrew Baker, the medical examiner for Hennepin County who performed George Floyd's autopsy, testified Friday afternoon that Floyd's subdual by law enforcement officers was the cause of his fatal cardiopulmonary arrest.
That contrasts somewhat with the views of other medical experts who testified in the trial that Floyd's death was ultimately caused by asphyxia, or a lack of oxygen. Baker's assessment that drugs did not directly cause Floyd's death is more or less consistent with those of other witnesses, though he listed the finding of fentanyl and methamphetamine in Floyd's body as "significant conditions."
Baker said no signs of acute injury to Floyd's brain or heart were found in the course of his autopsy. Though generally healthy in life, according to Baker, Floyd had a heart condition that, when combined with his restraining by Minneapolis Police Department officers, "was just more than (he) could take."
Baker said Floyd's testing positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, "did not factor" into his cause-of-death determination. The cause of death given on Floyd's autopsy is homicide, which Baker said Friday is a word in his line of work that has a more medical than legal definition.
12:45 p.m.: Pathologist testimony ends
During her questioning by Derek Chauvin's defense attorney, Dr. Lindsey Thomas budged only a little on her explanation for the cause of George Floyd's death.
She agreed that if Floyd had been been found dead in his own residence the night of May 25, 2020, one could consider his heart conditions or consumption of drugs as causes. The forensic pathologist also agreed that methamphetamine and fentanyl, traces of which where found in Floyd's body after an autopsy, can effect heart and breathing functions, and that there were no bruises found on his neck or throat.
Other medical experts who have testified in Chauvin's trial have said the lack of bruising does not preclude their assessment of Floyd's death being caused by asphyxia.
Moments later, Thomas indicated such hypotheticals were of little value when questioned again by a state prosecutor. The forensic pathologist said once more that she does not think Floyd died of a drug overdose or heart attack.
Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell's response to Nelson's line of questioning: "Aren't those questions a lot like asking, 'Mrs. Lincoln, if we take John Wilkes Booth out of this…'” Objection raised, and Blackwell has to rephrase. https://t.co/kvRFypDOBs— Danny Spewak (@DannySpewak) April 9, 2021
Earlier Friday, Judge Peter Cahill delayed the start of court proceedings somewhat because of an issue reporters later said had to do with a juror in the trial.
From pool reporter inside courtroom: A juror told Cahill that she'd received a text from her mother yesterday saying something like 'looks like it was a bad day." Also reporting a woman accompanied Chauvin into court this morning and sat in the seat reserved for his family.— Brandt Williams (@BrandtMPR) April 9, 2021
Court is slated to resume at 1:30 p.m.
11 a.m.: Pathologist dismissive of idea that George Floyd overdosed
An additional expert witness in the trial of Derek Chauvin has dismissed the idea that drugs were a decisive factor in the death of George Floyd.
Dr. Lindsey Thomas said Friday methamphetamine and fentanyl found in Floyd's body via an autopsy did not cause him to overdose. The doctor said she does not consider consumption of the drugs, and his underlying medical conditions, as a "direct cause" of his death.
An individual overdosing on the opioid fentanyl, according to Thomas, would appear almost asleep, whereas a fatal meth overdose would be more sudden and could involve seizures. If Floyd died as a result of his arteriosclerotic and hypertensive heart conditions, Thomas said, his death would have likewise been more instantaneous, which she said it did not appear to be.
"There’s no evidence to suggest that he would have died that night except for the interactions with law enforcement," Thomas said.
Jurors in Chauvin's case on Friday were handed photographs from Floyd's autopsy, which were not shown on screen in broadcasts of the event. Thomas said they depicted scrapes and similar injuries to Floyd's face, shoulder and hands resulting from his being pinned to the ground by the officers who arrested him.
Meanwhile, a pool reporter notes that a Chauvin-reserved seat in the courtroom is occupied today:
Chauvin trial: For the first time since March 8, someone is seating in the single courtroom seat reserved for a Chauvin supporter. The woman appears to be of Asian decent per the pool reporter in the room.
Chauvin trial: For the first time since March 8, someone is seating in the single courtroom seat reserved for a Chauvin supporter. The woman appears to be of Asian decent per the pool reporter in the room.— Rochelle Olson (@rochelleolson) April 9, 2021
10:05 a.m.: Pathologist's review attributes death to officers' actions
Dr. Lindsey Thomas told prosecutors in the case of Derek Chauvin that "the activities of the law enforcement officers resulted in Mr. (George) Floyd's death" the night of May 25, 2020.
The former assistant medical examiner for Hennepin County said in court Friday her conclusion is based upon reviews of footage and documentation pertaining to Floyd's death, the primary cause of which, she agreed, was "asphyxia, or low oxygen." She herself did not perform Floyd's autopsy, having retired several years ago.
It was the officers' restraint of Floyd, and their compressing of his neck, that fatally deprived him of air, according to Thomas, an argument supported by the cause of death listed on Floyd's death certificate.
9:36 a.m.: Forensic pathologist called to testify
Dr. Lindsey Thomas, a Twin Cities-area forensic pathologist, is minutes into her testimony in the trial of Derek Chauvin.
Thomas told jurors Friday morning that she was formerly the assistant medical examiner for Hennepin County. Saying she has been "semi-retired" since 2017, she today does consulting work for medical examiners' offices in Salt Lake City, Utah and Reno, Nev.
9 a.m.: Examiner who performed George Floyd's autopsy expected to speak
The trial of Derek Chauvin is slated to resume for the day at 9:15 a.m. Among the witnesses expected to be called Friday, April 9, is Dr. Andrew Baker, the medical examiner for Hennepin County, who performed George Floyd's autopsy.
His would be the latest in a series of testimonies that offered jurors medical explanations of how Floyd died.