Chauvin skips testifying as trial in Floyd death nears end

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In this image from video, defense attorney Eric Nelson, left, and defendant, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin address Hennepin County Judge PeterCahill during motions before the court Thursday, April 15, 2021, in the trial of Chauvin, at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis. Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. Chauvin told the judge he will not testify on his own behalf. (Court TV via AP, Pool)

MINNEAPOLIS – Former Officer Derek Chauvin 's trial in George Floyd's death will be in a jury's hands by early next week, after his brief defense wrapped up with Chauvin passing on a chance to take the stand and tell the public for the first time what he was thinking when he pressed his knee against Floyd's neck.

Closing arguments are set to begin Monday, after which a racially diverse jury will begin deliberating at a barbed-wire-ringed courthouse in a city on edge — not just because of the Chauvin case but because of the deadly police shooting of a 20-year-old Black man in a Minneapolis suburb last weekend. Minneapolis public schools announced they would revert to distance learning starting Wednesday in anticipation of a verdict.

Before the jury was brought in Thursday, Chauvin, his COVID-19 mask removed in a rare courtroom moment, ended weeks of speculation by informing the judge he would invoke his Fifth Amendment right not to testify.

Shortly afterward, the defense rested its case, after a total of two days of testimony, compared with two weeks for the prosecution.

Judge Peter Cahill reminded the jurors they will be sequestered starting Monday and said: “If I were you, I would plan for long and hope for short.”

Chauvin, 45, is charged with murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death after the 46-year-old Black man was arrested on suspicion of passing a counterfeit $20 at a neighborhood market last May.

Bystander video of Floyd gasping that he couldn’t breathe as bystanders yelled at Chauvin to get off him triggered worldwide protests, violence and a furious examination of racism and policing in the U.S.

The most serious charge against the now-fired white officer, second-degree murder, carries up to 40 years in prison, though state guidelines call for about 12.