Alternate juror in Derek Chauvin trial says medical expert’s testimony convinced her of ex-officer’s guilt
“I felt he was guilty,” said Lisa Christensen. “I didn’t know if he was going to be guilty on all counts, but I would have said guilty.”
As an alternate juror, she sat through the entire trial but was dismissed prior to deliberations, so she was not one of the 12 jurors who voted to convict Chauvin on two counts of murder and one count of manslaughter.
Still, her comments are the first public indication of what jurors in court every day felt and thought of the case against the former Minneapolis Police officer. Her analysis of the case also fits neatly with what court viewers and legal analysts said of the most powerful witnesses.
In the interview, Christensen said the prosecution had a really strong argument, especially with Dr. Martin Tobin, a soft-spoken pulmonologist who testified in clear language that Floyd died of low oxygen due to Chauvin’s restraint.
“Dr. Tobin was the one that really did it for me. He explained everything. I understood it down to where he said, ‘this is the moment that he lost his life,’ really got to me,” she said.
She also praised Darnella Frazier, the teenage bystander who took clear and intimate video of Floyd’s final moments. At the trial, Frazier testified she lost sleep at night apologizing to Floyd for not doing more to save him.
“She feels responsible in a way, and I feel really bad for her, but I commend her for taking the video because without her I don’t think this would have been possible,” Christensen said.
By contrast, she didn’t think the defense witnesses had a good impact and she had negative views of defense attorney Eric Nelson.
“I think he over-promised in the beginning and didn’t live up to what he said he was going to do,” she said.
Nelson has not commented to CNN since the verdict.
Christenson also expressed discomfort with Chauvin himself, who appeared in court every day but did not testify.
“We locked eyes quite a few times and I was pretty uncomfortable,” she said.
Christensen said watching the video of Floyd’s death, which she hadn’t seen in full before, left her in tears a couple times. And she expressed her continued confusion about how a suspected fake $20 bill got so out of hand.
“I just don’t understand how it got from a counterfeit $20 bill to a death,” she said. “It kind of shocks me.”
The jurors in the high-profile case were unnamed and unseen on camera to protect their identity.
In jury selection, Christensen, a White woman in her 50s, said she worked until recently in customer service in a suburban business that was damaged in the civil unrest after Floyd’s death. She said she had a “somewhat negative” view of Chauvin, but generally trusts police and believes people who follow their instructions have nothing to fear.