The trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin will be separate from trial of the other three former officers charged in the death of George Floyd.
Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill in an order on Monday split the trials of the four men into two separate trials due to COVID-19 concerns.
The "physical limitations" of the largest courtroom in the Hennepin County Government Center "make it impossible to comply with COVID-19 physical restrictions in a joint trial involving all four defendants" that begins March 8 due to the "number of lawyers and support personnel" each former officer is expected to have with them at trial, Cahill wrote in the order.
As a result, Chauvin's trial will begin March 8 with jury selection, which is expected to go through March 26. Opening statements will start no earlier than March 29, the order says.
Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng will still be tried together. Their trial will begin Aug. 23, the order states.
Last week, Cahill heard motions to delay the trial to the summer. Prosecutors in late December filed a motion seeking the trial to be delayed until June 7 due to uncertainties with the COVID-19 pandemic. In early December, the defense attorneys for Chauvin and Thao asked the court to delay the trial until July 5, saying the prosecution violated an order to share discovery material with the defense.
In Monday's order, Cahill denied the motion from Chauvin's attorney to push back the start date of Chauvin's trial due to discovery violations. Cahill also granted, in part, motions from prosecutors and defense attorneys to extend witness discovery deadlines.
Cahill in November ordered all four cases to be tried together in Hennepin County, which the prosecution had requested. That order is amended due to Monday's order since Chauvin will now be tried separately.
Chauvin, who was captured on video kneeling on Floyd's neck for several minutes, is charged with unintentional second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Thao, Lane and Kueng are each charged with aiding and abetting Chauvin on the unintentional second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges.