Derek Chauvin trial, Supreme Court bill, Adam Toledo video: 5 things to know Thursday

Defense to call at least one more witness in Derek Chauvin murder trial

At least one more witness will take the stand for the defense Thursday in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd. The witness will appear after Judge Peter Cahill initially suggested the defense would finish calling witnesses Wednesday and told the prosecution to prepare any rebuttal overnight. However, at the end of the session, Cahill noted at least one more witness was expected to testify. Thursday’s witness will follow five hours of testimony Wednesday from Dr. David Fowler, a medical expert for the defense, who said the manner of Floyd’s death was “undetermined.” Fowler’s testimony contradicts that of several prosecution witnesses, who said Floyd died from low oxygen due to law enforcement restraint. Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death in police custody on May 25, 2020. 

  • Wednesday in court: Defense medical expert says George Floyd’s death was due to underlying heart issues
  • Prosecution in Derek Chauvin trial rests after 11 days. Here are notable moments from those days 
  • Opinion: Don’t let George Floyd’s substance use muddy the facts in the Chauvin trial, an addiction doctor says

In addition to George Floyd's underlying heart issues, Dr. David Richard Fowler testified that several other conditions contributed to his death.


Democrats to introduce legislation to expand Supreme Court by four seats

Democrats will introduce a bill to expand the Supreme Court from nine to 13 justices, New York Rep. Mondaire Jones said in a tweet Wednesday night. Jones said he is introducing the Judiciary Act of 2021 with Reps. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y.; Hank Johnson, D-Ga. and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass. Nadler, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, said during a Wednesday meeting that an announcement would be made Thursday. During that meeting, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, interrupted a spirited back and forth between committee members about other legislation to ask about a report in The Intercept on the Democrats’ plan. Other Republicans followed suit and spoke about the potential for “court packing.” Progressive groups also have spoken out against adding justices to the high court and have been pushing for a number of other ideas. Legislation to expand the court would face an uphill battle in the evenly divided Senate.

  • ‘Think long and hard’:Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer pushes back on ‘court-packing’
  • Public remarks: Three Supreme Court justices tackle U.S. partisan divisions
  • Push for transformation: Biden unveils commission to study changes at Supreme Court after pressure from progressives

The Supreme Court didn't always have nine justices, in fact, it had more. But what changed and made nine the number that stuck?


Chicago to release body-camera video showing fatal shooting of Adam Toledo

Chicago city officials announced they will release “video and other materials related to” the fatal shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo by an officer who chased him into an alley. The decision comes after the Toledo family viewed police body camera video showing the shooting Tuesday. Officials informed the Toledo family, through their attorney, about the planned release of the video, according to a statement from the city’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability. The materials released will include bodycam footage, as well as response and arrest reports. Toledo was killed in the early morning hours of March 29. When police arrived on the scene on the city’s West Side after eight gunshots were detected, Toledo and a 21-year-old man fled, authorities said. The officer shot Toledo once in the chest after an “armed confrontation,” police said. Prosecutors have said the boy was holding a gun when the officer shot him.    

  • What we know: Prosecutors allege 13-year-old had a gun when he was shot by Chicago police: What we know
  • Chicago mayor calls for reform after 13-year-old Adam Toledo shot dead by police; family wants to see police video

Chicago's mayor is proposing to change the way police serve search warrants, seeking to regain public trust after police stormed into the wrong home and forced a woman to stand naked in handcuffs for several minutes. (March 3)

AP Domestic

United States poised to announce sanctions on Russia

The Biden administration is preparing to announce sanctions in response to a massive Russian hacking campaign that breached vital federal agencies, as well as for election interference, a senior administration official told the Associated Press. The sanctions, which will be announced Thursday, would represent the first retaliatory action announced against the Kremlin for last year’s hack, known as the SolarWinds breach. In that intrusion, Russian hackers are believed to have infected widely-used software with malicious code that enabled them to access the networks of at least nine agencies. The measures are intended to send a clear retributive message to Russia and to deter similar acts in the future. They come amid an already tense relationship between the U.S. and Russia, with President Joe Biden telling Russian President Vladimir Putin this week that the U.S. would “act firmly in defense of its national interests.”

  • Leaders speak: Biden calls Putin over Russian military buildup near Ukraine that’s ‘deeply concerning’ NATO
  • Biden speaks out: Putin will ‘pay a price’ for meddling, GOP cooperation still possible
  • It takes one to know one:US-Russia relations plunge as Putin responds to Biden’s ‘killer’ comments

White House press secretary Jen Psaki says the U.S. relationship with Moscow "will be very different" under President Joe Biden than it was under his predecessor, Donald Trump, insisting Moscow will be held accountable for their actions. (March 17)

AP Domestic

Suspect in Kristin Smart case to be arraigned

The “prime suspect” in the 25-year-disappearance of California college student Kristin Smart will be arraigned Thursday. Paul Flores, 44, the last person seen with Smart before she vanished in 1996, was taken into custody in the Los Angeles area on Tuesday and has been booked on the charge of murder with zero bail. His father, Ruben Flores, 80, was also arrested at his Arroyo Grande home. Smart, 19, of Stockton, California, vanished in May 1996 while returning to her dorm at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo after a party. She was seen with Paul Flores, who was a student at the time. Smart’s body has not yet been recovered by police, but physical evidence linked to her has been recovered, according to authorities. 

  • Previous coverage from 2020: Family of Kristin Smart, who went missing in 1996, now says there’s no news coming soon 
  • Video: More from the DA on the Smart murder investigation and next steps

The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney says Paul Flores has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of missing California college student Kristin Smart. His father, Ruben Flores, faces a charge of accessory after murder. (April 14)

AP Domestic

Contributing: The Associated Press

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