Aaron Dean murder trial set to begin Monday after numerous delays

The trial of former Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean for fatally shooting Atatiana Jefferson in 2019 during a welfare check at her mother's home will begin Monday in Tarrant County.

The murder trial has faced a number of delays due to the pandemic, a change of judges and more.

"Yeah, certainly been a long-time coming," said Russell Wilson, a former Dallas County prosecutor who has no ties to the case.


Wilson says Monday's opening arguments will allow attorneys on both sides to present clear and concise messages to the jury.

"The lawyers have a usually a very clear vision of what they believe the evidence is going to show and witnesses sometimes will stumble, they may be uncertain on things," Wilson said.

Wilson expects the case to be focused on specific elements, beginning with the non-emergency call from a neighbor to police because a door was open with lights on.

Officer Dean arrived, walked into the backyard and saw Jefferson in a window, yelling, "put your hands up! Let me see your hands!"

Dean immediately fired a single shot killing Jefferson.

"I expect it to be focused very heavily in those areas," Wilson said.

According to an affidavit, Jefferson's nephew told police Atatiana "heard noises coming from outside and she took her handgun from her purse." He says she then pointed it toward the window, then she was shot.

"The defense might be arguing that that was you know a sufficient threat," Wilson said.

Wilson, however, points out it is not a crime to possess a legal gun inside your family home. 

"You know often times we view our home as our castle if you will," he said.

Of the 200 jurors who showed up for jury selection, 8 men and 6 women were chosen. None are African American.

READ MORE: Aaron Dean murder trial: Jury seated, no Black jurors selected

Attorney Lee Merritt, who is representing Jefferson's family in a pending civil case, calls it disappointing. Wilson, however, says he wouldn't make too much of it, considering both prosecutors and defense attorneys help decide who's qualified to be a juror.

"One of those things for qualifications would have been that you had not previously former an opinion regarding the guilt or innocence of Mr. Dean, and so if you had then you weren't going to be able to be a juror," Wilson said.

If convicted of murder Dean could face between 5 and 99 years in prison.

FOX 4 will have coverage live from the courtroom starting Monday morning.

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