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Mohamed Noor: Minnesota High Court overturns 3rd-degree murder

Mohamed Noor: Minnesota High Court overturns 3rd-degree murder

The court said there was insufficient evidence to uphold the sentence and ordered that he be convicted because of his sentence for second-degree manslaughter.

This ruling replaces an earlier appeals court decision in February against Noor, which opened the door to reinstate a third-degree murder charge against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted in April of state murder charges in George Floyd’s death.

Mary Moriarty, the former head of Hennepin County Public Defender, said she does not believe the decision will affect Chauvin’s case because his second-degree murder has not been reversed. Chauvin was only convicted on the most serious charge of second-degree murder, per sentencing guidelines.

In a statement, Noor’s lawyers and his family praised the decision.

“They have had a long journey; now fairness has been delivered to a person who is devoted to his community,” the statement said, quoting their client as saying “with difficulty comes easily” and that he looks forward to hug his son as soon as possible.

“We have always maintained that this was a tragic case and we are grateful for an exceptionally well-founded and unanimous opinion from the Supreme Court of this State.”

The Minnesota Supreme Court ruling said a person’s mental state must show a “generalized indifference to human life that cannot exist when defendant’s behavior is specifically directed at the person being killed” for the third degree — also known as “corrupted” memory murder -conviction to stand.

The evidence in Noor’s case, the court held, was “insufficient to uphold his conviction … for corrupt mind-killing.”

In June 2019, Noor was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

The 33-year-old Somali American was convicted in April of the same year of third-degree murder and manslaughter in Ruszczyk’s death in 2017, who had moved from her native Australia to Minneapolis to live with her fiancé.

CNN has sought comments from lawyers in the family of Mohammed Noor and Ruszczyk, as well as the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, which is pursuing the case.

At Noor’s trial, his lawyer claimed that a “perfect storm” of events led to him opening fire on Ruszczyk on the night of July 15, 2017, when she called 911 to report a possible assault in an alley behind her home in Minneapolis.

Noor testified that he feared for his partner’s life as Ruszczyk approached their squad car in the dark, empty alley. But Hennepin County prosecutors said Noor overreacted and failed to properly assess the situation before firing a shot at Ruszczyk’s abdomen.

Noor apologized to Ruszczyk’s family and said he would think of her every day.

Prosecutors said Noor sat in the passenger seat, pulled out his gun and fired over the vehicle to hit Ruszczyk, who was outside the driver’s side door.

Noor testified that his partner’s terrified expression and the sight of Ruszczyk with his hand raised shook him to action. Although he did not see a gun in the woman’s hand, he feared his partner could be shot as she began to lift her hand, he said.

Ruszczyk’s death attracted much attention in the United States and in her native Australia.

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