Supreme Court overturns Noor third-degree murder conviction
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The Minnesota Supreme Court on Wednesday overturned the third-degree murder conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor in the death of...
Justine Ruszczyk Damond, meaning he will likely see about eight years shaved off his prison sentence.

The decision stunningly rejected a February ruling by the Minnesota Court of Appeals that upheld the murder conviction against Noor, who is serving a 12½-year term for fatally shooting Damond in 2017.

The court's decision upended a historic milestone — Noor was the first former officer in Minnesota to be convicted of murder for an on-duty killing. Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was found guilty this year for murdering George Floyd, is the only other officer in the state to be convicted of murder.

The court's unanimous ruling written by Chief Justice Lorie Gildea focused on the mental state necessary for the legal standard of a "depraved mind," defined as a "generalized indifference to human life."

The state's highest court said such a state cannot exist when a defendant's conduct is aimed at a particular person. The ruling affirmed what Noor's lawyers have claimed since trial — that third-degree murder didn't apply because his actions were focused on a single person.

In Noor's case, the high court agreed. "The only reasonable inference that can be drawn from the circumstances proved is that appellant's conduct was directed with particularity at the person who was killed, and the evidence is therefore insufficient to sustain his conviction … for depraved-mind murder," Gildea wrote.

Jurors convicted Noor in 2019 of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for shooting Damond while responding to her 911 call about a possible sexual assault in the alley behind her home. Wednesday's decision vacates the murder conviction and sends Noor back to court to be resentenced on the manslaughter count. Several local lawyers and Noor's defense attorney Peter Wold said Noor is likely to receive about four years in prison on the lower count — the term recommended by state sentencing guidelines for defendants like Noor who have no criminal…
Chao Xiong, Rochelle Olson, Star Tribune
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