Closing arguments are set for Monday, after which the racially diverse jury will begin deliberating at the barbed-wire-ringed courthouse.

Defence attorney Eric Nelson, left, and defendant, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin address Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill, April 15, 2021.
Defence attorney Eric Nelson, left, and defendant, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin address Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill, April 15, 2021. (AP)

Former Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin has waived his right to testify to the jury about his part in the deadly arrest last May of George Floyd as his murder trial, the most high-profile police misconduct case in decades, nears its end.

"I will invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege today," Chauvin said after briefly removing his mask, referring to the constitutional right against self-incrimination, in his most extensive remarks since his trial began with jury selection on March 8.

The defence told Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill it would call no more witnesses after two days of testimony and would rest its case, which has focused on raising doubts about the cause of Floyd's death.

It is rare for defendants to take the stand in a criminal case because they face intense cross-examination by prosecutors and risk undermining their case and credibility.

Prosecutors from the Minnesota attorney general's office said they would call at least one rebuttal witness, and Cahill has previously advised jurors he expects both sides to present their closing arguments on Monday.

Jurors will then begin deliberating one of the most closely watched police misconduct cases ever seen in the United States.

Chauvin's defence

The video of Floyd gasping that he couldn't breathe as bystanders yelled at Chauvin to get off him triggered worldwide protests, violence and a furious examination of racism and policing in the US.

Medical experts called by the prosecution said Floyd's death was caused by a "low level of oxygen" from the neck restraint and not due to drugs or pre-existing conditions.

READ MORE: 'Low level of oxygen' led to George Floyd's death – expert

Chauvin, who is white, was seen in bystander video kneeling on the neck of Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man in handcuffs, for more than nine minutes after Floyd was accused of using a counterfeit $20 bill to buy cigarettes. 

The footage of his death sparked global protests against the disproportionate use of force by police against Black people.

Chauvin's defence claims Floyd's death was due to underlying health conditions and consumption of fentanyl and methamphetamine.

His lawyers called an expert on the use of force to tell the jury that Chauvin's use of force was appropriate, contradicting the Minneapolis police chief, who testified that it far exceeded an appropriate response.

READ MORE: Defence expert in Chauvin trial calls Floyd's death 'undetermined'

They also called a forensic pathologist, former Maryland chief medical examiner Dr David Fowler, who said Floyd, whose death was ruled a homicide at the hands of the police, really died of heart disease, and that the exhaust fumes of the adjacent police car may have also poisoned him.

Dr Martin Tobin, a pulmonologist who testified as an expert witness for prosecutors, will return to the stand on Thursday as a rebuttal witness in an effort to undermine Fowler's testimony about carbon monoxide poisoning.

Prosecutors also said they had been contacted by Dr Andrew Baker, the Hennepin County chief medical examiner who performed the autopsy on Floyd, to disclose previously unpublished test results that showed normal carbon monoxide levels in Floyd's blood.

The judge denied the request to admit the new evidence, saying it was too last-minute in a way that was prejudicial to Chauvin, and warned prosecutors that if Tobin even mentioned the existence of the results, he would declare a mistrial. 

READ MORE: Medical examiner stands by homicide conclusion for Floyd's death

Source: TRTWorld and agencies