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Juror in Chauvin trial says guilty verdict had 'nothing to do with pressure from anywhere'

Brandon Mitchell said the jury "walked in with an open mind" to the trial of the former Minneapolis police officer.
/ Source: TODAY

A juror from the Derek Chauvin trial said the enormous spotlight on the case did not affect the jury's decision to convict the former Minneapolis police officer for the murder of George Floyd.

Brandon Mitchell, 31, one of the 12 jurors who found Chauvin guilty on all three counts of second- and third-degree murder, as well as second-degree manslaughter, spoke on the 3rd hour of TODAY Wednesday about whether the jury felt pressured because of the high profile of the case.

"No, not at all," he told Craig Melvin. "We all knew coming in that everybody would be watching, but I don't think there was any pressure. There was so much stress within the courtroom, we didn't even have time to think about anything on the outside or any of that.

"Just being there alone and witnessing what you're witnessing on the videos and listening to all the people, that alone is enough stress. You're not paying attention to anything else, really."

Mitchell also dismissed the notion that the guilty verdict was a foregone conclusion before the trial even started because of the heightened attention on the case across the country.

A video showing Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds, according to prosecutors, ignited protests against racial injustice and police brutality across the world last year, but Mitchell said there were no preconceived notions going into the trial.

"To me, that's just so dismissive of the entire process," he told Al Roker. "We're everyday civilians that put our families, our jobs and our days aside to serve justice. We all walked in with an open mind, and we left out with a guilty verdict. But that's literally how the system is and that's how it works.

"We walked in with an open mind and we did our due diligence to see what the defense is going to come up with. We just felt like the evidence was overwhelming for our verdict. It had nothing to do with pressure from anywhere. This was the decision that we came to, and that's what the jury system is there for."

The jury deliberated for roughly four hours following closing arguments, which Mitchell thought was actually longer than it should have been.

"Just because I thought the evidence was overwhelming that he was guilty in my opinion," he said. "I thought it was a no-brainer. Like I said after Dr. (Martin) Tobin and all the other witnesses and all the evidence, I didn't see any reason why it should've took longer than an hour."

Tobin's testimony in which the pulmonary expert said he believed Floyd died from a lack of oxygen from Chauvin's knee on his neck and not a drug overdose as suggested by the defense was a turning point for Mitchell.

"I think the way he broke everything down but still kept it very scientific, that was kind of the point where I was like, 'OK, I don't know how the defense comes back from this,''' Mitchell said.

Chauvin had a stoic demeanor in the courtroom during the case, but Mitchell saw changes as the trial went on.

"From my perspective and the angle I had, it looked like he was very confident the first week, week and a half," Mitchell said. "I personally could see the confidence kind of deteriorating from him and a little bit from his team of attorneys as more and more witnesses came up."

Chauvin, who is set to be sentenced on June 25, could face up to 40 years in prison after being found guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

"That's not up to me to decide," Mitchell said. "We came up with the verdict. I feel like we came up with the right verdict, and now it's time for the judge to do what he does."