A key state witness has refused to testify in Derek Chauvin’s murder trial, DailyMail.com can reveal.
Morries Lester Hall, 42, was in the car with George Floyd, 46, on the day of his death.
He has spoken publicly in the months since the incident outside Cup Foods and has consistently claimed that Floyd did not resist arrest and that he himself attempted to diffuse the situation.
But in a surprise move Hall, who is on the State’s witness list, filed a motion with Hennepin County District Court late Wednesday evening in which he gave notice that he would plead the Fifth if called upon to testify by either side.
Morries Hall, whose name initially was spelt as Maurice, is refusing to testify in court
Hall was in the passenger seat on May 25, 2020, when Floyd was arrested by Minnesota police
Hall, in white t-shirt and red sweat pants, is seen getting into the passenger side of Floyd’s car
The legal document filed by Hennepin County Public Defender and seen by DailyMail.com states: ‘Mr Morries Lester Hall…hereby provides notice to all parties in this matter that if called to testify he will invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.’
Hall, like Floyd, is a Houston native and the two men connected with each other in Minneapolis through a pastor.
According to an interview with The New York Times he and Floyd had been in touch every day since 2016 and he considered the older man a ‘confidant and mentor.’
In that same interview Hall himself boasted: ‘I’m a key witness to the cops murdering George Floyd, and they want to know my side. Whatever I’ve been through, it’s all over with now. It’s not about me.’
Hall and Floyd (pictured) were both from Houston but met in Minneapolis through a pastor
Yet despite his claims, Hall was far from co-operative at the outset of the investigation into Floyd’s death.
He had outstanding warrants for his arrest on felony possession of a firearm, felony domestic assault and felony drug possession at the time of Floyd’s death.
He gave a false name at the time, and then left the city two days after Floyd died, and hitch-hiked to Houston, The New York Times reported.
Agents of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension attempted to contact Hall numerous times to no avail.
He was tracked down to Houston and arrested, spending a night in jail following questioning.
Chauvin is standing trial on three counts: second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
If convicted on the most serious count he could face up to 40 years in prison. If convicted on the lesser charge he could be free within as little as five years.
Prosecutors expect to take between two and two and a half weeks to mount their case against him and have so far rattled through numerous, often emotional, witnesses in their bid to see Chauvin convicted.
Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes
Chauvin is currently on trial for murder following Floyd’s death
Hall has not been named in proceedings though his image has been seen numerous times alongside Floyd in surveillance footage and officer body-camera video played in court.
He was next to Floyd in the blue Mercedes SUV when Cup Foods staff tried to get Floyd to return the cigarettes he had just purchased using a fake $20 bill, or come back and pay with a genuine one.
He was next to Floyd when Officers Lane and Keung arrived on the scene. And he was next to him when Lane pulled his weapon and instructed him to get out of the car.
In numerous clips Hall can be seen interacting with both officers on the sidewalk.
During testimony on Wednesday jurors heard Cup Foods clerk Christopher Martin explain that one of the reasons he knew the $20 bill with which Floyd tried to pay was fake was because of its blue pigment.
But he went onto reveal that his suspicions were also roused because the note was so similar to one that Hall had attempted to pass off as real earlier that same day and which the clerk had refused to accept.
Speaking not long after the May 25, 2020 incident Hall said: ‘I walk with Floyd. I know that I’m going to be his voice.’
But with Wednesday’s filing Hall has made it very clear that it is not a voice that will be heard from the witness stand.
The third day of Chauvin’s trial saw prosecutors play long segments of video from the body camera worn by one of the rookie police officers who first arrived on the scene at Cup Foods, Thomas Lane.
Lane approached Floyd, who was sitting in the driver’s seat of a Mercedes SUV outside Cup Foods and drew his weapon immediately.
Floyd, from the start, was agitated, crying and seemingly terrified.
Earlier, the judge temporarily halted the proceedings after a 61-year-old witness broke down in sobs as he recounted his memory of Floyd’s arrest.
The witness, Charles McMillian, was among several who have spoken through tears on the witness stand.
Jurors also heard on Wednesday from Christopher Martin, the 19-year-old Cup Foods employee who first confronted Floyd about the apparently fake $20 bill that he used to buy cigarettes.