Why won't George Floyd's friend testify?

In this image from video, Morries Hall speaks as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill discusses motions before the court Wednesday, April 14, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapo
In this image from video, Morries Hall speaks as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill discusses motions before the court Wednesday, April 14, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapo

Man was with Floyd on the night of his death but refuses to answer questions under oath.

Posted: Apr 14, 2021 4:19 PM

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A friend of George Floyd who was with him the night he died won't testify at the trial of the former Minneapolis police officer charged in his death, the judge overseeing the case ruled Wednesday.

Derek Chauvin's defense attorney wanted to call Morries Hall to testify in an effort to shift blame for the death to Floyd himself, for his use of illicit drugs and other health problems.

But Hall said Wednesday he would refuse to answer any questions, invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

“I'm fearful of criminal charges going forward,” he told the judge.

His attorney, Adrienne Cousins, said there was no way Hall could answer even a narrowly tailored set of questions without risking exposure to third-degree murder and drug charges.

Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill agreed. He said during earlier proceedings that he thought Hall might be able to answer limited questions about Floyd's behavior that night without incriminating himself. But he said he found Cousins' arguments persuasive and quashed the subpoena.

Here’s a look at Hall's significance in the case.

HOW WAS HALL TIED TO FLOYD?

Just before the fatal confrontation on May 25, video and other evidence presented in Chauvin’s case establishes that Hall was a passenger in an SUV parked outside Cup Foods with Floyd at the wheel.

After Floyd was removed from the SUV and handcuffed, officers questioned Hall and a woman who was also with them. The defense has said the officers weren’t able to fully question Hall at the scene because they were focused on arresting Floyd, but Hall did speak with investigators later.

WHAT WAS THE AIM OF THE DEFENSE?

It’s common at murder trials for defense attorneys to offer alternative theories about how victims died, and attorney Eric Nelson clearly thought Hall could help them raise reasonable doubt in the jurors' minds.

Nelson mentioned Hall in his opening statement as someone who could provide testimony to show that illegal drugs and underlying health conditions caused Floyd’s death. Defense filings said Hall told investigators he suspected Floyd was under the influence of drugs that day because he suddenly fell asleep in the driver’s seat before officers approached.

WHAT WAS THE POSITION OF PROSECUTORS ON HALL TESTIFYING?

Prosecutors refused to grant Hall immunity from future charges, which effectively blocked the defense from calling a witness who presumably wouldn't have helped their case. And they questioned the value of Hall testifying if he was going to invoke his right against self-incrimination to every substantive question.

What prosecutors didn't want was the defense asking Hall whether he gave Floyd drugs.

“The state doesn’t want Hall up on the stand with the defense having a field day asking questions he won’t answer, and jurors assuming he is not answering because the answer is ‘yes,‘” said Mike Brandt, a Minnesota defense attorney who has been closely following the trial.

WHAT DID HALL'S LAWYER SAY?

Cousins told Cahill that Hall couldn’t answer any of the defense’s proposed questions because he couldn't afford to place himself in the SUV that night and risk exposing himself to “constructive possession charges.” She pointed out that the vehicle was searched twice and that drugs were recovered both times.

The state also could potentially charge him with third-degree murder under a provision that applies for drug overdoses, she said.

“Let’s say Mr. Chauvin is then acquitted. He (Hall) has now given the state, on a silver platter, testimony to use against him in a third-degree murder charge,” Cousins said.

WAS HALL’S TESTIMONY THAT IMPORTANT?

Probably not. The jurors already knew Floyd had fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system when he died and that he had a history of drug use. But Nelson has rarely passed up chances to remind them.

Floyd’s girlfriend, Courteney Ross, testified that she and Floyd struggled with addiction. She said she didn't like Hall and that she believed he had provided drugs to Floyd in the past.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 592750

Reported Deaths: 7376
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1226641731
Ramsey51369875
Dakota45906452
Anoka41713438
Washington26899283
Stearns22238222
St. Louis17758304
Scott17275124
Wright16034140
Olmsted1324298
Sherburne1170887
Carver1049145
Clay815792
Rice8056107
Blue Earth750441
Crow Wing665089
Kandiyohi655783
Chisago599751
Otter Tail574978
Benton570297
Goodhue478072
Douglas467875
Mower465732
Winona454550
Itasca437556
McLeod423659
Isanti421364
Morrison419260
Nobles407748
Beltrami395559
Steele388315
Polk384168
Becker380253
Lyon360651
Carlton345254
Freeborn341729
Pine328622
Nicollet326143
Brown305440
Mille Lacs304553
Le Sueur291723
Todd282132
Cass272828
Meeker256340
Waseca236222
Martin230632
Roseau209019
Wabasha20533
Hubbard189341
Dodge18493
Renville180243
Redwood174337
Houston171816
Cottonwood164923
Fillmore156310
Wadena155922
Pennington153619
Faribault152319
Chippewa152238
Kanabec144626
Sibley143510
Aitkin134936
Watonwan13279
Rock128219
Jackson121812
Pipestone115426
Yellow Medicine114120
Pope11026
Murray10639
Swift105218
Stevens91311
Marshall88117
Clearwater86816
Koochiching83315
Wilkin81512
Lake81119
Lac qui Parle75322
Big Stone6004
Lincoln5813
Grant5768
Mahnomen5499
Norman5399
Unassigned50093
Kittson48622
Red Lake3967
Traverse3705
Lake of the Woods3253
Cook1640

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 367061

Reported Deaths: 5938
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk57642625
Linn20869335
Scott20044241
Black Hawk15813308
Woodbury15132228
Johnson1448383
Dubuque13374208
Dallas1118298
Pottawattamie11122168
Story1061748
Warren577988
Clinton555693
Cerro Gordo540389
Sioux514474
Webster512293
Marshall483075
Muscatine481199
Des Moines457166
Wapello4301122
Buena Vista424840
Jasper419272
Plymouth401280
Lee375855
Marion362575
Jones298957
Henry291837
Carroll285952
Bremer284560
Crawford266140
Boone264834
Benton256655
Washington253750
Dickinson248443
Mahaska230351
Jackson222142
Clay215625
Kossuth215364
Tama209771
Delaware209641
Winneshiek196934
Page192722
Buchanan191332
Cedar190023
Hardin185643
Fayette185141
Wright184637
Hamilton179949
Harrison179673
Clayton169556
Butler164934
Madison162319
Mills162222
Floyd160942
Cherokee158938
Lyon158041
Poweshiek154734
Allamakee151451
Iowa148824
Hancock148234
Winnebago142431
Calhoun138513
Cass138554
Grundy136333
Emmet134340
Jefferson132435
Shelby131037
Sac130319
Union128333
Louisa128149
Appanoose127949
Mitchell126342
Chickasaw124116
Guthrie121530
Franklin120521
Humboldt119126
Palo Alto112823
Howard104622
Montgomery103338
Clarke100124
Unassigned9740
Keokuk95931
Monroe95129
Ida90335
Adair86532
Pocahontas85522
Davis83024
Monona82730
Osceola78716
Greene77710
Lucas77223
Worth7478
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