FORT WORTH, Texas - It has been a second day of playing news coverage in court on the shooting death of a Fort Worth woman by a former police officer.
Aaron Dean is charged with murder, and his attorneys are trying to get his trial delayed and moved out of Tarrant County.
Dean’s legal team on Tuesday again played hours of local news coverage that has aired since the deadly shooting. That was the only courtroom action for the second straight day.
But just before the end of the day, questions from the defense and the state - clearly illuminated what both sides are trying to prove to the judge.
The former Fort Worth officer is charged with the murder of 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson. He’s been out on bond since 2019.
His attorneys are trying to prove his trial should be moved out of Tarrant County. FOX 4 news coverage and that from other local tv stations are part of the evidence the defense is putting on.
Dean responded to the South Fort Worth home of Jefferson’s mother after a call for a welfare check because a neighbor reported the front doors were open late at night.
Dean did not identify himself as an officer before shouting at Jefferson’s shadow and then shooting through a window, killing her.
Lee Merritt, the attorney for Jefferson’s siblings, was in the courtroom gallery on Tuesday. He believes the amount of news coverage being shown is tedious and does not prove ‘misinformation’ has been spread. He also talked about how the family is holding up.
"It’s an extremely exhaustive process. They’re trying to prove that the case has been talked about, and of course it’s been talked about all over the country, not just in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Having to go through all the videos and showing that the case has been talked about doesn’t establish what they need to establish,’ Merritt said. "Which is that there is tons of misinformation out there. So much so that they can’ t get a fair trial. Instead, it puts the family through another tedious process before they get to the heart of why we are here, which is accountability."
That point was something the prosecution homed in on when questioning Rebecca Jerome, a legal assistant for lead defense attorney Jim Lane.
"And you’re not aware of how many hits each of these stories ever got on the internet or how many viewers they had on television or in the print media market?" the prosecution asked.
"No," Jerome said.
Meanwhile, Dean’s defense attorneys focused their questions for Jerome on Lane’s health problems, arguing he’s had little time to properly prepare for trial.
Jermone testified that she noticed Lane’s health quickly deteriorating in mid-March.
"He’s very weak. He doesn't have a lot of strength," she said. "He’s using a cane to walk around. He looks very tired. He’s lost a ton of weight."
Merritt cited other high-profile cases, including the trial of former Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger who was convicted of murder for fatally shooting Botham Jean in his own apartment 2018.
A judge denied Guyger’s request for a change of venue. It’s a decision Merritt expects will be repeated in Dean's case.
"It has to be a very specific set of circumstances that causes a change," he said. "But it’s not enough just to have media coverage. It must be misinformation, and they won't be able to prove that."
The judge at one point called Merritt in front of the court, and he was sworn in as a witness, even though Merritt says he is unaware of being included on any list to testify during this hearing.
Court has adjourned for the day. It’s hard to say how long this playing of news coverage will continue and ultimately a ruling on the change of venue motion.