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Most of the 150 men in my building have been following the George Floyd killing. 

From the time I first learned of the case, I believed Derek Chauvin would be convicted, but only of manslaughter. As more details emerged in the newspaper and during the trial, I knew he would and should be convicted of murder. I had little doubt that the jury would agree. 

My roommate Justin agreed. “I believed he would be found guilty from the beginning,” he said. “Without the video or if George Floyd had not died, he would have gotten away with only a slap on the wrist.” Justin has a military background, and is a White, 47-year-old from Texas. 

Dortel, who is Black, in his late 40s and has a Ph.D. also said he had confidence in the jury. His roommate Antwane, a 33-year old Black Jehovah’s Witness, believed Chauvin would be convicted but thought that he would be released early from his sentence.

Isaac, a 33-year-old Mexican who works as a dog trainer in the “Paws for Life” program, said he  had assumed Chauvin would be found not guilty because of what he has seen in previous trials involving police officers. He was surprised and happy and thought a 25-year sentence was appropriate. 

Robert, who is Chinese in his mid-40s and working on his MBA, wasn’t very interested in the case, saying that he was more concerned about prison problems and getting his sentence commuted. 

Sonny, a 45-year-old Vietnamese man, expected that Chauvin would be made into an example, with a guilty verdict to serve as a warning to other police officers. 

Joshua, a 44-year old Chinese Buddhist, also had no doubt from the beginning that he would be found guilty and thought Chauvin should be sentenced to the maximum term. Ken, a 52-year old Japanese man, said that the testimony during the trial, specifically the comments made by the medical personnel, made him realize George Floyd’s death was murder.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

Lawrence May is a writer incarcerated in California. He has traveled to nearly 40 countries outside the U.S. and has written more than 50 stories, as well as his autobiography.