The man who was in the SUV with George Floyd the night he died during an encounter with police appeared in court Monday via Zoom in Redwood County for a 2019 sex trafficking and drug case. Morries Hall, 42, appeared as arguments took place in the trial of Derek Chauvin about whether the jury would hear about a police interview Hall gave a week after Floyd’s death in which he made incriminating statements, according to prosecutors and Chauvin’s lawyer.
Hall and a woman named Shawanda Hill can be seen on body camera video talking with Officer Thomas Lane outside of the SUV Floyd was driving on May 25, 2020. Prosecutors said Hall gave a false name to officers because he had felony warrants out for his arrest.
Hall left Minneapolis for Texas a short time later and was apprehended by Texas Rangers and interviewed by agents with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension with an attorney present on June 2, 2020. Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank said Hall denied giving drugs to Floyd that day.
“There’s a lot about Mr. Hall’s statement that is self-serving and unreliable,” Frank said. “He denies giving any pills to Mr. Floyd, he denies having pills. There’s a lot of evidence to suggest that’s not true.”
Frank and Hall’s attorney have already stated outside the presence of the jury that he has criminal exposure for third-degree murder, counterfeiting and drug possession.
Frank said Hall admitted to being in possession of counterfeit bills that day. Hall can be seen on surveillance video from a restaurant taking something out of his backpack and tossing it into the street as officers took Floyd to their cruiser last May. Floyd’s girlfriend, Courteney Ross, testified that Floyd bought drugs from Hall.
Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, asked Judge Peter Cahill to allow the jury to hear testimony about Hall’s statements in which he explained what he and Floyd did that day and what was happening in the SUV before police approached.
“He describes they had to shake Mr. Floyd awake many times,” Nelson said. He added, “He freely answered the agents’ questions about where he and Mr. Floyd spent the day, what their behaviors were, where they went and specifically how he appeared physically, his demeanor.”
Judge Cahill denied Nelson’s request to present testimony about Hall’s statements to investigators saying there is nothing in the statement to indicate it was trustworthy which is required for it to be presented under an exception to the hearsay rule. He also denied Nelson’s request to require prosecutors to outline why they have refused to grant immunity to Hall in exchange for his testimony. Cahill noted he could order Hall to answer questions but he may refuse to do so invoking his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.
Meanwhile, Hall faces charges of solicitation, sex trafficking in the second degree, promoting prostitution and two counts of controlled substances crimes involving possession of fentanyl, heroin, methamphetamine, tramadol and two other drugs. Hall was charged in 2019 but said Monday “Redwood County did not do a very good job of trying to get a hold of me.”
Hall’s public defender, Adrienne Cousins, said the summons for the case was sent to the wrong address and that is why he failed to appear in court for that case. She said that he had posted bail in his Hennepin County cases, could not afford to post any more money and also could not afford to miss any future court dates.
The judge set Hall’s bail at $40,000 without conditions and $25,000 with conditions but told Hall he would only have to post $2,500. Hall became angry and responded, “that’s fucking nuts, bro.” The judge ordered that Hall be muted for the remainder of the hearing as Cousins said, “Mr. Hall!”
Cousins said Hall would be staying at a sober living facility if he posts the remainder of his bail. He remains in custody in Hennepin County.
Hall could be called to testify in Chauvin’s trial on Tuesday. Chauvin’s defense maintains Floyd died of a drug overdose from pills provided by Hall.
[Image via Law&Crime Network]
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