FORT WORTH, Texas - More than 3 years after Atatiana Jefferson was shot and killed while babysitting her nephew at her mother's southside Fort Worth home the murder trial in the case is underway.
Jury selection wrapped up Friday morning in the murder trial of former Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean.
Out of the 200 who showed up for jury selection eight men and six women were seated on the jury after three days of questioning.
From visual observation two appear to be of Indian descent, one appears to be Asian, at least one is Latino, none are African American.
Ashley Carr, one of Jefferson's two sisters, tells FOX 4, "After three years we are grateful that there has been progress in this process. We pray strongly that the jury hears the case with an open mind and the correct accountability is issued."
"It is disappointing that not a single Black juror was selected to serve on the panel. We don’t believe that’s reflective Tarrant County, and we understand that often happens in cases like this," said Lee Merrit, an attorney representing Jefferson's siblings in a pending civil case involving her death.
Merritt spoke to FOX 4 solely to provide reaction to jury selection and not regarding any detail of the case itself due to a gag order.
"Every jury selection process is different but when you fail to seat a single Black juror that means, because we know that there were potential black jurors that were struck for cause or other reasons and I want to see Batson challenges in every one of those cases. A Batson challenge is a legal maneuver that says, ‘I want you to explain why the Black jurors were disqualified.’"
When Judge Gallagher asked prosecutors and the defense team if either had challenges after announcing the jury. Both sides said they had none.
"It's disappointing to me that the Tarrant County prosecutors did not want to pursue any Batson challenges. I think it's important for preserving the record, but that's a legal strategy that we really don't know," said Merritt.
Merritt says Jefferson's siblings plan to attend the trial which is expected to last more than a week. He says the overall outlook is one of cautious optimism.
"Speaking with Atatiana's sisters and her brother today, it is a huge relief to hear that the trial is going forward. They have been waiting on literally pins and needles for 3 and a half years to see this case be tried. To see the evidence go forward," he said. "They told me today that it’s the reality is starting to sit in that this is really happening, and now they will see whether or not they can get justice for their sister. It’s an anxious time, but they are relieved that it’s going forward."
After numerous delays the trial is set to begin on Monday.
It will only be a half day.
The judge will issue an official ruling in the change of venue motion. Next he will read the indictment and instructions to the jury, followed by opening arguments.