Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke has been convicted of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm — in the shooting death of Laquan McDonald — but the case is far from over. What kind of prison time will he have to serve? Will he appeal his conviction? What about that contempt of court issue? Here’s what to watch out for in the coming weeks:
A second-degree murder conviction carries anywhere from probation to 20 years in prison, but the aggravated battery counts are actually more serious, carrying a mandatory sentence of six years and up to 30 years in prison for potentially each count. But experts vary wildly on how it will all play out, particularly the thorny issue of whether Judge Vincent Gaughan will impose consecutive prison terms for each aggravated battery count or fold them all together. Some predict Van Dyke could face up to 60 years in prison, while others say it’s likely much less, the Chicago Tribune reports.
Van Dyke’s attorney has vowed to appeal the conviction to a higher court, a process that would begin after sentencing. Daniel Herbert has said in interviews that one of the reasons he filed so many pretrial motions was to preserve issues for an appeal if Van Dyke were convicted. After the verdict Friday, Herbert told reporters he was confident he has a solid case, particularly on Gaughan’s denial of their motion to move the case outside Cook County. “As I told Jason and his family, we have a lot of legal challenges ahead of us. We know we can get this even better and perhaps throw everything out,” he said.
Three current and former Chicago officers also face trial on charges stemming from McDonald’s shooting. Former Detective David March, former Officer Joseph Walsh and Officer Thomas Gaffney were charged last year with covering up what really happened the night Van Dyke shot McDonald — including filing false reports to exaggerate the threat the teen posed. They are slated for trial late next month.