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George Floyd killing: Thao and Kueng reject plea deals, will have state trial

CBS Minnesota 8/15/2022 John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS -- It's looking more likely today that two former officers will go to trial this fall for their roles in the death of George Floyd.

During a brief hearing this morning, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao rejected a plea deal from the state.

That deal would have recommended a 3-year prison sentence for state charges.

Had Keung and Thao accepted the state's sentence, both men would have served that time concurrently with the federal sentences they received in July. In that case, Kueng got 3 years in prison and Thao received 3½ for violating George Floyd's civil rights.

Thao and Kueng plan to appeal their civil rights convictions, and on Monday, they rejected the state's plea offer. They and their attorneys left the courtroom without talking to reporters, while state prosecutors also had little to say. 

While the two sides can still talk, legal expert Joe Tamburino doesn't believe there will be a plea deal before the trial starts.

"The rationale is they think they have a defense. And legally, they do have a defense," said Tamburino. 

During Monday's 15-minute hearing, Thao told Judge Peter Cahill that it would be "a lie and a sin" for him to accept the plea deal.

Prosecutors had offered to drop the highest offense of aiding and abetting second degree murder- but both men would have been required to plead guilty to aiding and abetting second degree manslaughter. If convicted of the more serious offense during a state trial, they could face 12 years in prison. But Tamburino isn't surprised they're taking that chance. 

"It's going to be difficult for the state to prove that these two individuals intentionally aided Mr. Chauvin in an unintentional act. That's a hard hill to climb. So they probably thought that they have a good defense," said Tamburino. 

Thao's attorney Robert Paule said that at one point they received a two-year prison deal from Attorney General Keith Ellison, but they rejected it. 

The trial for Thao and Keung is scheduled for October.

Derek Chauvin is serving more than 20 years for Floyd's death.

The fourth officer, Thomas Lane, is serving a two-and-a-half year sentence for his federal conviction. He's still waiting for his sentence in the state case.

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