FORT WORTH, Texas - The former mayor and police chief of Fort Worth both testified Thursday about comments they made after the shooting death of Atatiana Jefferson.
Former Fort Worth Police Department officer Aaron Dean is charged with Jefferson’s murder.
His attorneys said former Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price and former Fort Worth Police Chief Ed Kraus made a rush to judgment about Dean's actions.
Dean's trial has been repeatedly delayed, and his attorneys are trying again to have the case moved out of Tarrant County.
The defense continued to make its case for a change of venue.
They called a nueropsychologist to the stand to testify on the effects of pre-trial publicity.
She said coverage on this case has been "extensive and pervasive," which she believes negatively impacts Dean.
The defense also called two former city leaders to the stand to testify about their statements to the public.
A news conference held back on October 14, 2019, was the focus of Thursday’s hearing ahead of Dean's murder trial.
It was two days after the former Fort Worth police officer fatally shot Jefferson through a window at her mother's home during a non-emergency call about an open front door.
At the news conference, Fort Worth's mayor and police chief at the time, Price and Kraus, made public statements about Dean's actions.
"There is nothing that can justify what happened on Saturday morning, nothing," Price said.
"No one looked at that video and said there’s any doubt that this officer acted inappropriately," Kraus said.
Both Kraus and Price appeared in person Thursday, under subpoena by the defense, which is trying to have the trial moved.
The defense called them both "influential persons" whose words carry weight with the public.
The prosecution argued that there was no way of knowing how many people watched the news conference.
The defense also called Fort Worth Councilman Chris Nettles to testify via Zoom.
Nettles campaigned on a pledge to bring Dean to trial.
In June 2021, just after being elected, he walked into the Tarrant County courthouse, with cameras rolling, to hand-deliver a letter to Tarrant County District Attorney Sharon Wilson.
It said, in part, "we are approaching two years since Atatiana’s murder and yet the man indicted for murder remains free. It’s time for Aaron Dean to have his day in court."
Nettles also tried to deliver the letter to the presiding judge at the time, but wasn't allowed.
The defense is trying to prove that Dean cannot get a fair trial in Tarrant County due to all the pre-trial publicity in the case, citing these specific examples among the news coverage.
A neuropsychologist backed up the defense's claim, testifying that research shows the more pre-trial information a potential juror consumes, the harder it is for them to be unbiased when hearing evidence in court.
The pre-trial hearing is over for now.
No word on when the judge might issue a ruling on the change of venue request.
The defense said it’s still waiting on some evidence to be submitted.