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LIVE: Chauvin Trial Day 10 – Forensic Pathologist and Medical Examiner Day

LIVE: Chauvin Trial Day 10 – Forensic Pathologist and Medical Examiner Day

Dr. Andrew Baker, the Hennepin County chief medical examiner, is expected to testify today. This comes after a day of medical testimony yesterday that may have rescued a flailing prosecution.

Welcome to Legal Insurrection’s continuing LIVE coverage of the trial of Derek Chauvin in the in-custody death of George Floyd. Andrew Branca is traveling today, so I am “guest” live blogging for what is expected to be a half-day in court.

Sorry to disappoint you! Andrew will do today’s wrap-up after he has a chance to watch the testimony himself. So for this morning, you are stuck with me. Feel free to continue adding to the comment section, Andrew will see that when he prepares his wrap-up.

(Update 1:30 p.m) I thought today was a half day, but it turns out it’s a full day. So after the lunch break we are supposed to hear from Dr. Andrew Baker, the Hennepin County chief medical examiner. I’ve updated the title and image.

This comes after a day of medical testimony yesterday that may have rescued a flailing prosecution. I still don’t understand how Dr. Martin Tobin was permitted to testify to his hocus-pocus precise oxygen calculations based on video review. Is this a methodology accepted in the medical community? What is his background as an attending physician would allow him to make such conclusions not only as to oxygen level but to cause of death? In my opinion, his testimony was devastating to the defense. I don’t understand how defense counsel Nelson didn’t fight it harder.

Also, note that the prosecution changed approach. The first eight days were spent trying to convince the jury that pressure to the carotid artery due to the ‘knee on the neck’ cut off blood flow to the brain causing Floyd to stop breathing. But Tobin said it was how Floyd was restrained on the ground that made it hard for him to inhale. You can’t have it both ways, but apparently the prosecution is trying to do that.

If you want to review what has happened since the beginning of jury selection, you can scroll back through our George Floyd – Derek Chauvin Trial tag. For trial testimony, check out the wrap-up posts so far:

Here is the LIVE VIDEO feed:

Here is the LIVE Blog (hopefully it works today):

Also, I’ll put in a plug for Andrew. The time he is spending on this is enormous, practically round-the-clock. Here’s something he has posted before:

Personal Message from Andrew: Hey folks, obviously thousands of you are new to me and my firm, Law of Self Defense, and I have to say it’s really humbling to see this onrush of attention–and thanks to so many of you for your kind words and encouragement! For those who’d like to know more about what we do, I’d like to offer each of you a complimentary copy of our best-selling book, “The Law of Self Defense: Principles,” a plain-English explanation of use-of-force law, for FREE. Normally the book is $25 + S&H, but if you’ll just cover the S&H cost of getting the book to you, we’ll cover the $25.  If you’re interested–and I hope you are!–just click here: FREE COPY Law of Self Defense: Principles Book.


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Multistorey | April 9, 2021 at 4:56 pm

I have an arrhythmia. I live with it every day. I need a medical grade atrial fibrillation monitor to confirm that. You wouldn’t know it to look at me. I had a heart attack with no chest pain. I’m guessing people react differently. BTW I didn’t take lethal doses of fentanyl/methamphatimine with a massive hypertension and fought for 20 minutes with my 10% CA disease before my heart attack – I just did a slow 20 minute jog. I have low BP, low cholesterol, a minor, 5% blockage of a minor artery, and no drugs ever. Blue-lighted to hospital! Compare me with him and just think! I wonder what MY outcome would have been if I’d ingested stupid amount of drugs and fought with the cops with a crappy heart and crappy BP!

What a job…But OK he likes it. The mesh wit the Scheme Team case iz not copasetic. Homicide? C’mon. Hiz super fly dealer kilt him. Whatafrigginstench.

Just one question on re-direct: “other contributing conditions” not direct causes, contributing causes” BOOM. No wonder Blackwell shut it down quickly.

death result of “multi-factorial process” – doesn’t this contradict Thomas in her testimony from this morning?

Can Nelson recall Baker as part of his defense team if he needs to?

    “death result of “multi-factorial process”
    That is the bottom line…opioid pulmonary edema, reduced blood O2 levels,….. hypertension>”thick” left heart muscle, …..severe coronary artery disease…..severe physical stress….”demand” cardiac ischemia….ventricular arrhythmia…..death

      lurker9876 in reply to SHV. | April 9, 2021 at 5:52 pm

      Then almost a “she said, he said”. The difference is that Thomas did not perform the autopsy. Baker did.

      Will Nelson still call the pathologists from his list next week?

      What more can the prosecution team do after Baker?

      What is astonishing is that Baker was interviewed multiple times with one before the grand jury and Keith Ellison and his prosecution team still went after these 4 officers!?!?!?!

      But then Devil’s Advocate, were they so scared of BLM/ANTIFA if they thought they had no case at all? So they had to charge them. Grand jury probably felt the same.

    Astrov in reply to lurker9876. | April 9, 2021 at 6:39 pm

    I don’t think so now. They would have declared it to the judge and the judge would tell Baker not to look at any coverage. That’s what happened with the MPD first aid trainer.

Nelson perhaps missed an opportunity to get Baker to state again that he doesn’t believe it is possible to measure lung volume post-mortem. Baker might defer to Tobin, but that statement undermined Tobin.

dallasmediator | April 9, 2021 at 5:22 pm

Wonderful job with the blogging, Prof. Jacobson.

pedanticman | April 9, 2021 at 5:34 pm

Anyone care to speculate how much longer the State plans to go before resting their case? Monday? Tuesday?

How can they tell if it was the knee on the back or the 3x fatal dose of fentanyl that turned off his lungs? Seems to me that there is a lot of doubt over what killed him.

Did any of the experts testify that it wasn’t fentanyl?

    Decee in reply to ConradCA. | April 9, 2021 at 6:05 pm

    I think the Irish guy tried to explain it but he just made me fall asleep.

    He came across as a dinosaur. He made his conclusion and then just made every thing fit into that and anything that didn’t (drugs) he simply disregarded. He was very rigid in his thinking and refusal to accept anything else played a part on his death.

    lurker9876 in reply to ConradCA. | April 9, 2021 at 6:13 pm

    Baker said it was a multi-factorial process with contributing factors. Nothing direct. And he said that chauvin’s knee did not cut off Floyd’s airway,

    clintack in reply to ConradCA. | April 9, 2021 at 6:45 pm

    Tobin was very emphatic that it couldn’t possibly have been fentanyl.

    His proof was counting the breaths in a short clip of bodycam video.

    It sounded like high-grade quackery to me, but he’s an expert and he did so testify.

    big_tex in reply to ConradCA. | April 9, 2021 at 6:50 pm

    They say it would be slow falling asleep not a sudden struggling gasping for breath. Seems sorta true at this point. Hard to know what jury is thinking. Seems Floyd might have been having a heart issue related to patrol car and then restraint didn’t help.

      lurker9876 in reply to big_tex. | April 9, 2021 at 6:54 pm

      There were questions about a person must reach coma state under fentanyl overdose before death.

      today we heard sleep first before passing out.

KingPresterJ | April 9, 2021 at 6:11 pm

Referring to the comment, “[I thought Nelson did an okay, but not great job],” do you think there were missed opportunities and the day could have gone better for the defense? I understand from previous comments that the defense is limited in contradicting witnesses at present as it’s currently the State’s case.

    Newayz36 in reply to KingPresterJ. | April 9, 2021 at 7:20 pm

    As your average person, I find myself wanting Nelson to close the loop or make the point for me. In the words of Blackwell, I want the punchline. Maybe he will do all of this with his witnesses but I think it would be more effective to me as a potential juror to point it out in the moment, the contradictions, and speaking in absolutes when that couldn’t possibly be the case.

To me Baker put murder of the table. The exertion of wrestling the police tipped GF over the edge. The police were lawfully allowed to effect the arrest. If someone else unlawfully assaulted him it might be murder but now manslaughter is the best the prosecution can hope for.

The states own medical experts have contradicted each other’s testimony, and they don’t agree about what caused Floyd’s death, and yet the state will argue to the jury that there is proof beyond reasonable doubt that the cops’ actions caused the death.

That is already reasonable doubt, all by itself, and we haven’t even heard from the defense’s medical experts yet.

Alan Dershowitz:
“Cops are allowed to lie to get someone to confess, they don’t have the same rules you do. They are allowed to use force.”
Megan Kelly: “so maybe the judge could dismiss this case.
AD: “He should dismiss this case.”

    luckystars in reply to luckystars. | April 9, 2021 at 10:14 pm

    Someone spread disinfo to me and I spread it. Sorry.
    Dershowitz first said “Chauvin is a terrible person. Knee on neck for so long.”
    Then he went into the legal saying 2nd degree murder should be dismissed by the judge, and third degree. It was Megan Kelly who said that the defense showed it was not on the neck but shoulder. He agreed. Like he didn’t know before.
    He thinks it will be conviction of manslaughter unless Chauvin takes the stand and does well.
    Everyone is lining up with the mob which is now the fascist mob which is government/business. Classic fascism.
    God help us please.

    kimd09876 in reply to luckystars. | April 10, 2021 at 8:39 am

    There is no way they should be able to prove either murder charge. If I’m on the jury I’m not even seeing manslaughter to the burden of proof. The persecution over charged this case. Had they opted for a manslaughter charge I think their case May have been a little cleaner. But it feels like they are trying so hard for murder they aren’t making the manslaughter case either.

Mr. Jacobson, thank you for so ably stepping in for Mr. Branca. I appreciate you doing this.

Still no word on compelling the drug dealer to testify?

Does the jury get to know that he is refusing?

    TheOldZombie in reply to Andy. | April 9, 2021 at 9:13 pm

    The jury doesn’t know. Personally I think because the girlfriend brought his name into the trial that he should be put on the stand. Even if he takes the 5th at least the jury can see that. I’m sure if he doesn’t show up to the trial the jury will be wondering why wasn’t he called to testify since he was there.

If you want to see your head explode, go listen to the Washington Posts analysis of todays testimony. They said “Reasonable doubt is not a good thing, Eric Nelson could use this to set his client free!” Is this not his job? Is Derek Chauvin not innocent until proven guilty? Wow, these people are something else!

    henrybowman in reply to BreenaJohn. | April 9, 2021 at 9:11 pm

    Well, we learn today that an visual journalist on staff at the NYT was actually a paid employee of the CCP, so apparently there’s no limit to the corruption to be uncovered at progressive media outlets if we really put our minds to it.

    TheOldZombie in reply to BreenaJohn. | April 9, 2021 at 9:11 pm

    When you hear things like that you realize how precarious the countries position is to fascism/communism (to me it’s all the same -ism in the end).

    These people don’t want fair trials for those accused. They want kangaroo court trials and guilty verdicts. Eventually maybe even getting to the point where the defendant is not allowed a defense. Just a verbal tongue lashing and a guilty verdict by the court.

MiddletonSheffield | April 9, 2021 at 7:28 pm

Hi guys, what’s the deal with second “independent” autopsy? Is it not admissible in a criminal trial? Is there a Minnesota law that covers this?


    That was not an independent autopsy…it was a paid review of the relevant documents by pathologists for hire. It was ordered by the same legal team that said Trayvon was the 12 year in his pic carrying skittles in his hoodie, that Michael Brown had his hands up, that Ahmaud Arbery was out for a jog, and SWAT hit Breonna Taylor’s apt by mistake. These are all compelling narratives that go viral, and lead to huge monetary civil judgements, but they would actually hurt the states case in an actual trial where the defense gets to cross and point out the truth.

Midfiaudiophile | April 9, 2021 at 7:40 pm

How is it that certain professional witnesses, like Baker, don’t understand that when they put on the condescending, sarcastic attitude, any viewers of the exchange also become defensive. “It’s not like in those tv shows you watch! muttermuttermutter”.

Witnesses that are legitimately trying to educate and engage in a discussion of what may have happened are ultimately much more effective when it comes to convincing me of their ultimate point.

    David Ked in reply to Midfiaudiophile. | April 9, 2021 at 8:01 pm

    Baker is not a professional witness. He is the Hennepin County ME. As I stated above, I lived next door to him for years and did not like him (and he did not like me). He ALWAYS has that condescending, I am smarter than you, attitude.

    I just remembered a funny story about him. Our dog was barking and he called and started yelling at my wife in a highly inappropriate manner. My wife put in on speaker phone. I got on the phone and told him if he said another word or spoke to my wife like that again I would come over and, well, hurt him. That was the end of that conversation and he never called again. So, yeah, I threatened a key witness in this case 13 years ago. lol.

      Midfiaudiophile in reply to David Ked. | April 9, 2021 at 8:21 pm

      He’s a professional witness insofar as he probably frequently testifies in cases involving wrongful death, being the person to actually examine the bodies. His job is to create a record of the death for the sake of any later legal actions that may take place (as well as contribution to the medical literature in cases that may be especially interesting, but that’s probably more rare than would be a medical malpractice suit or similar).

    The TV show comment may have come off as condescending but it was sadly needed, as alot of people think the CSI shows are actually how ME offices and crime scene analysis is done. I didn’t find Dr. Baker to be that bad and there were moments where he helped the defense. One thing I think may have helped was when Mr Nelson would ask him about a quote or testimony and he wouldn’t remember it, it would be read to him, then he would spout off a long line of what he “surely” would have said. I think it shows the jury he was being disingenuous and unhelpful. As the county ME he should be neutral in the case regardless of which side called him and only offer fact.

    The 1st ME that testified I think helped the defense quite a bit as you could hear ( I’m listening to the trial and not watching it ) the tone of her voice change to one of annoyance when she would have to answer defense questions favorably.

I am not hearing anyone discuss the reason he did not drive off after he left the store, he was sitting there for all that time. When officers approached him he was not super coherent. I believe he was having a reaction at this time, he was struggling to breathe and the white foam was already present.

Who leaves a store and just sits outside waiting for trouble to come knocking?

Why didn’t they call the female in the car as a witness?

per video of 5/25

She was commenting to officer that GF had issues whilst she was on the sidewalk.

Were was she as George was arrested? Where was Mr. Hill? I did hear that she had called for someone to pick her up.

When did she make that call?

Was it because of police presence or was it previous as George was intoxicated?

    JaneDoh in reply to SF. | April 9, 2021 at 8:14 pm

    It’s been a while since I watched the video, but IIRC the presumed dealer and the other lady friend told the police that Floyd was crazy. To the extent they may have lied to the police about the reason for Floyd’s behavior, that also might have been a factor in how the officers responded to Floyd.

    I suspect the other lady friend in the car may be the woman Courteney Ross named as another person who supplied pills to Floyd. If so, it might be difficult to get her testimony.

    thomcad in reply to SF. | April 9, 2021 at 10:14 pm


    That was not an independent autopsy…it was a paid review of the relevant documents by pathologists for hire. It was ordered by the same legal team that said Trayvon was the 12 year in his pic carrying skittles in his hoodie, that Michael Brown had his hands up, that Ahmaud Arbery was out for a jog, and SWAT hit Breonna Taylor’s apt by mistake. These are all compelling narratives that go viral, and lead to huge monetary civil judgements, but they would actually hurt the states case in an actual trial where the defense gets to cross and point out the truth.

    thomcad in reply to SF. | April 9, 2021 at 10:19 pm

    I’m guessing that since we are in the stage where the
    state presents their evidence, they wouldn’t call her unless she had evidence to support Chauvin’s guilt.
    The defense might call her, but unlike the state they would not be able to compel her testimony by offering immunity.

    buck61 in reply to SF. | April 10, 2021 at 12:15 am

    they may have stayed there because they had some pills to sell

Midfiaudiophile | April 9, 2021 at 8:17 pm

I looked at the list of witnesses. Apparently, Nelson has a pulmonologist of his own (I was concerned that Thomas and Baker constantly talking about wanting a pulmonologist would only reinforce Tobin’s testimony):

It will be interesting to see how his findings differ from those of Dr. Tobin.

    broomhandle in reply to Midfiaudiophile. | April 9, 2021 at 9:15 pm

    I am confident the defenses own pulmonologist witness will be quite a bit different than Tobin. After having to suffer watching him for so long spin a convenient lie for the prosecution, I am almost willing to settle at this point for someone who isn’t so creepy.

    OopsTheresPoopInMyPants in reply to Midfiaudiophile. | April 9, 2021 at 10:27 pm

    Thank you for the link. I figured Nelson would be bringing in a pulmonologist. Maybe one that doesn’t base his/her entire testimony on pure speculation.

It would have been interesting to ask Dr. Tobin if he uses his visual pulmonary diagnoses on any of his clinical patients? Has he ever charted such observations before and then ran objective clinical tests to validate his hypothesis? And if there are any medical school classes that cover this expertise? Post graduate classes or seminars? Is it covered on Board Certification Examinations? Have there ever been peer reviewed papers that have discussed this method? How many times did he watch the video before he came to his conclusion? What exactly was Mr. Floyd’s pO2 at the time he determined Mr. Floyd’s death? Mr. Floyd’s Title Volume in the ten respirations before the that fatal moment? How many years of training does he have? Does he know how many of the police officers on the scene have he level of clinical experience with pulmonary medicine? Has he ever performed an operation where there is a crowd yelling at him? Would that external stimulus impact his concentration? Should police officers perform physical exams while arresting resisting suspects? Pulmonary function tests? Has he ever arrested anyone? Anyone resisting arrest?

Has he written and submitted a paper on his visual pulmonary evaluation to any professional peer reviewed journal?

Tobin’s hypothesis is the epitome of junk science and quackery.

I am not a medical doctor nor a pathologist, but I have attended a number of autopsies where asphyxiation was suspected by the history of the event. Many times there are no physical signs, histological or neurohistopathological findings. Those causes of death are normally found to be “undetermined.”

So many questions still to be answered. Love the analysis, thanks!

    db2681 in reply to ddurkof. | April 10, 2021 at 7:54 am

    Two things I would like the Defense to raise with the pulmonologist they call in, 1. Dr Tobin said only 10% of people who smoke develop lung problems, this runs contrary to the American Lung Association, CDC, Mayo Clinic and about every other medical group there is, and I would use the ALA and CDC material in my presentation as people love government facts. 2. Show the machines and procedure for measuring O2 and CO2 levels in a person, and explain why hospitals use them and not just basic calculations based on age of a healthy individual. Use both the finger clip and the full machine used during stress test as GF was obviously in a stressful environment. I think those are two the biggest things you can do do discredit Dr. Tobin.

    I would also like to see Mr Nelson call in a Civil Engineer who could blow up Dr. Tobins garbage math calculations for how much force was applied in about 5 seconds. As its much more than one formula to determine it, including finding a the center of gravity which because of the equipment police use would not be the normal point for a person.

I just realized something. Yesterdasy the toxicologist reported a study where 25% of people who are arrested for driving under the influence of fent. were above 11+ nanograms of fent.

That is of the people who were driving.The other testimony is that fentanyl puts you to sleep. To get behind the wheel you have be highly tolerant of fent already. A very skewed sample.

don’t know where the state goes after this

their case seems kind of trivial and aimless

however, the nutless judge will never dismiss this out of hand

98% chance of a hung jury, too many activists on the jury for an acquittal

Would the prosecution jumping from theory to theory about possible ways death could have occurred in the complete absence of post Morten evidence on the body of Mr. Floyd be enough to plant the seeds of reasonable doubt?

Waiting for the wrap up…

Also, a preview of what to expect next Monday and Tuesday.

carolinaandbaby | April 10, 2021 at 9:05 am

Baker seems to be a competent ME whose diagnosis was twisted by watching the video and pressure from various authorities, Defense did a good job of establishing complicating factors and still not sure how Baker got to a asphyxia diagnosis. Obviously getting to the diagnosis of asphyxia is complicated and not objective. Did anyone understand how Bake gor to the asphyxia daignosis with no evidence in the brain, etc…Nelson made that clear. I think that the prosecution made a mistake on redirect at the end. That simple question did not help in mitagating the uncertainty as cause of death. Dumb move.

    lurker9876 in reply to carolinaandbaby. | April 10, 2021 at 9:21 am

    That’s why Blackwell stopped after the first question but I have to wonder how smart the jury panel is…smart enough to see through the fog due to lack of evidence.

We now have a wrap up!!

What I heard was Dr. Baker refute obstruction of airway, obstruction of blood flow and broken neck as factors involved in GF’s death. I also would ask Dr Baker if “Over exertion in the presence of a bad heart and illicit drugs while being restrained” is a reasonable way to paraphrase his top line?

Did the video include Nelson’s recross after Blackwell’s redirect? It seemed to stop when the Judge called for a 15 minute break. Very frustrating.

Will Baker be recalled on Monday or is he done?

If the state fails to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, under what circumstance is the Judge allowed to declare the defendant not guilty prior to giving the case to the jury?

Does the judge have the courage to do that?

I just finished watching the videos for day 10. IMO, both Dr. Thomas and Dr. Baker helped the defense’s case more than the prosecution. They highlighted the uncertainties around forensic pathology and the difficulty in determining cause of death.

I think Dr. Baker clearly said that there were no anatomical injuries to suggest asphyxiation. When he walked out of the autopsy room the only things he knew based on his exam that Floyd’s heart was enlarged, that he had critically narrowed coronary arteries and that his lungs were full of fluid (congested). All those things could be considered “natural” causes of death.
It seems like later after watching the video and political pressure caused him to write “subdual and restraint by law enforcement”

Nelson overall did much better on day 10 than he did on day 9. The state’s case seems to be getting weaker, not stronger (with the exception of Dr. Tobin and Dr. Smock who both were ridiculous in their statements). Nelson hasn’t even brought his witnesses and experts forward.

How can this NOT result in at least a hung jury?

    Rocinante123 in reply to jackscott1. | April 11, 2021 at 3:36 am

    I don’t think there was any pressure to add “subdual and restrain,” maybe a little to add “neck compression” but maybe not. It is a matter of fact the subdual and restraint by police were the immediate cause of the cardiopulmonary arrest. The exertion of the struggle with police, the stress of the altercation was just too much for Floyd’s heart to handle and it failed. I don’t believe Floyd died of a drug overdose. I think the extremely stressful altercation with police when they were attempting to subdue him and load him into the squad car while he resisted, in the context of his horrible heart, a large amount of fentanyl onboard, the adrenaline surge, plus the further stress methamphetamine puts on the heart just led to his heart failing.

    My opinion is when he started complaining that he couldn’t breathe while struggling with police in the squad car was when the cardiopulmonary arrest began. I suspect if his hands weren’t cuffed he may have grabbed toward his chest. He requested to be put on the ground at that point probably because he sensed something was seriously wrong. The neck compression on the ground I’m not didn’t help and probably accelerated his death, but he was already in the death process at that point, and his heart was unable to pump enough oxygen to the brain. He then probably finally died as a result of low oxygen because his heart had failed and was no longer able to pump oxygen to the brain.

    In the absence of the cardiopulmonary event he suffered in the squad car, there’s simply no way a normal, healthy person would have asphyxiated on the ground. Asphyxiation in that position would be a very gradual process, much more gradual than 4 or 5 minutes.

    I imagine Nelson will bring a lot of experts who will paint a clear picture that there’s. just no way Floyd died from the neck compression on the ground if his heart had been functioning properly at that time. His heart failed in the squad car. You can pretty much see the moment it happened.

    The prosecution has conveniently ignored the fact that he claimed he couldn’t breathe minutes before he was on the ground. I assume Nelson will make it a central part of his defense. Until there is a plausible, satisfactory explanation of why he couldn’t breathe in the car (assuming he wasn’t lying), I don’t see how there can be a conviction. He was evidently suffering a medical emergency & breathing difficulties long before he was on the ground–how can we say beyond a reasonable doubt then that Chauvin’s knee is what deprived him of oxygen?

    If there is a conviction, I don’t know the process, but I imagine on appeal the circumstances surrounding the trial could result in a vacated judgment.

The ME said he did not do a chest X-ray, however, the ER doc should have done one for correct ET tube placement upon arrival to the ER, which would have taken about 10 seconds to shoot. This would have shown the amount of edema present in GF’s lungs, early in CPR. I am still leaning toward Flash Pulmonary Edema as cause and not DC’s knee.

Just thinking out loud…Nelson’s only ineffectual cross was Tobin, and that was possibly because he got the slides the night before. He got the slides the night before because the state was reluctant to use Dr. Tobin’s fairy tale unless they were desperate.

Eric Nelson also mentions 4 times that partially consumed drugs were found in the backseat of squad car 320. How on earth does someone ingest drugs while handcuffed, while struggling with police and while yelling the entire time?