It took the jurors less than two days to reach a guilty verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, but according to juror number 52, it could have happened even quicker.
High school basketball coach Brandon Mitchell, 31, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that a decision could have come within 20 minutes of deliberating, except one of the 12 jurors was initially unsure.
"They wanted to make sure they got it right,” Mitchell said during the interview Wednesday. “I think the one juror that was kind of, I wouldn’t say slowing us down, but was being delicate with the process, more so, was just kind of hung up with a few words in the instructions.”
Mitchell is the first juror to speak out about the process of convicting the former Minneapolis police officer charged with the murder of George Floyd and what it was like to serve in one of the most highly-watched criminal trials in decades.
He described the atmosphere of the Hennepin County courtroom during the more than three weeks of arguments to several news outlets.
The grim details and video evidence in the trial weighed heavily on people in the courtroom. Mitchell said the process of repeatedly watching video of George Floyd’s death felt like a funeral.
“Every day we had to come in and watch a Black man die. That alone is stressful,” Mitchell told CBS. “It definitely had its impact on me. There were a few days where I was like, ‘I don’t know how I’m going to make it in the next day.’ Especially as a Black man, and a larger Black man.”
Mitchell said the prosecution’s selection of star medical witnesses helped seal the deal with a majority of the jury. He singled out the testimony of pulmonologist and breathing expert Dr. Martin Tobin on the ninth day of the trial.
"Once Dr. Tobin was finished with his testimony, I felt like the trial was done,” Mitchell told CNN Wednesday. “He spoke everything in layman's terms, and it made sense."
Mitchell said that Tobin’s testimony, which laid out exactly why it was Chauvin who killed Floyd when he kneeled on the 46-year-old Black man’s neck for more than nine minutes, seemed to be an insurmountable obstacle for the defense to overcome.
“I didn’t think there was any way for the defense to come back after that,” Mitchell told CBS This Morning. “When Dr. Tobin came, with him speaking so scientifically but also making it understandable for everyone, along with the exhibits that he came with, I thought he broke it down in a manner that was easy for all the jurors to understand.”
Mitchell’s insight comes as a bit of a surprise as just last week, Judge Peter Cahill ordered the identities of the 12 jurors remain hidden from the public due to violent threats received by attorneys on both sides of the case.
Derek Chauvin was convicted of second and third degree murder and second degree manslaughter last week. His sentencing was originally scheduled for June 16, but was recently rescheduled for June 25 due to a scheduling conflict. Chauvin also still faces the possibility of federal charges in both Floyd’s death and in the brutal 2017 arrest of a Black 14-year-old who he also kneeled on for minutes at a time.
The trial for the other three former Minneapolis police officers involved in Floyd’s fatal arrest, Tou Thao, Thomas Lane, and J. Alexander Kueng, is scheduled to begin in August.