An alleged drug dealer who was with George Floyd during his arrest on May 25 spoke to state investigators for about 90 minutes, but his statements are being blocked from the jury in the trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin.
Experts say Morries Hall’s statements to authorities would only benefit the defense, according to a report from Law & Crime.
Hall “describes they had to shake Mr. Floyd awake many times,” argued Eric Nelson, defense attorney for Chauvin. “He freely answered the agents’ questions about where he and Mr. Floyd spent the day, what their behaviors were, where they went and specifically how he appeared physically, his demeanor.”
Judge Peter Cahill has denied Nelson’s request to allow the jury to hear the statement from Hall, or even a summary of the statement. According to Cahill, “there is nothing in the statement to indicate it was trustworthy which is required for it to be presented under an exception to the hearsay rule,” Law & Crime reported.
The prosecution has made it clear that they do not want the statements from Hall to be heard by the jury; the state has even refused to grant Hall immunity in exchange for testimony. Nelson has requested that the prosecution outline their decision to deny Hall immunity, but Cahill has denied the request.
Last week it was reported that Hall was refusing to testify before the jury, invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Hall’s lawyer contends that her client’s testimony could lead to a third-degree murder charge in the death of Floyd because of his alleged drug activity with the 46-year-old just before the arrest.
Nelson has claimed that Hall gave drugs to Floyd before the incident and could testify on specifics about what went on in the Cup Foods, the alleged counterfeit money, and Floyd’s apparent temporary inability to wake up after he ingested Percocet pills.
“This will include evidence that while they were in the car, Mr. Floyd consumed what were thought to be two Percoset [sic] [painkiller] pills,” Nelson said during his opening statement, ABC News reported. Floyd, Hall, and Floyd’s ex-girlfriend were sitting in a Mercedes Benz SUV before the events of the day further unrolled.
“Mr. Floyd’s friends will explain that Mr. Floyd fell asleep in the car and that they couldn’t wake him up to get going, that they thought the police might be coming because now the store [employees] were coming out,” Nelson continued.
Hall’s lawyer, Adrienne Cousins, has filed a motion attempting to block subpoenas from both the prosecution and defense teams.
“Your honor, I cannot envision any topic that Mr. Hall would be called to testify on that would be both relevant to the case that would not incriminate him,” Cousins told Judge Cahill last Tuesday. “Mr. Hall’s testimony in these matters would specifically put him in the position of being in very close proximity to Mr. Floyd, in a vehicle where drugs were found during a search by police following Floyd’s death.”
The assistant Hennepin County public defender argued her client’s testimony could be a “link in the chain” to Floyd’s death, leaving Hall open to a third-degree murder charge.
As highlighted by The Daily Wire, Nelson has strongly argued that drugs played a crucial role in Floyd’s death. Courteney Ross, Floyd’s girlfriend at the time of his arrest, “said that both she and Floyd struggled with opioid addiction and that she suspected that Floyd had relapsed several months before his encounter with the Minneapolis police in May based on the way he was behaving.”
Related: Floyd’s Alleged Drug Dealer Refuses To Testify To Avoid ‘Self-Incrimination’ At Chauvin Trial