Judge to consider ex-Fort Worth officer Aaron Dean's change of venue request

Lawyers for the former Fort Worth police officer who shot and killed Atatiana Jefferson are arguing this week why they want the trial out of Tarrant County.

The defense claims Aaron Dean will not get a fair trial in Tarrant County because of the extensive media coverage of the case and public activism.

Judge David Hagerman granted a number of state and defense motions in the murder case against Dean, including background checks required for each witness and a review of any criminal history. 

"If you have criminal histories on any of your witnesses, you need to turn it over," he said.

More intense was the discussion of police officers’ personal notes taken during the Atatiana Jefferson fatal shooting investigation.

The tone reached another level when Dean’s attorneys pushed back on the state’s accusation that they were on a fishing expedition with sweeping requests for witness and police information.

Judge Hagerman did grant the defense some of its requests, including information about potential witnesses.

Russell Wilson is a former Dallas County prosecutor not associated with the case. 

"I think the judge is going to wait until you actually have the people in the jury room where they're doing voir dire and you'll get a better sense for whether or not you can or cannot choose a jury that will be fair and impartial," he said. "So the defense is going to try to set what I would call like a backstop. In other words, if we request this information and the state hasn't produced it and it later on, something comes up to show that it's relevant, then we can complain that we didn't receive the information in the first instance."

Several of Jefferson’s family members were seated in the back of the courtroom. It was a matter that prompted attention.

Ashley Carr, Jefferson’s sister, was sworn in because she will be called to testify when the trial begins in January. 

"Both sides have agreed to let you stay in the courtroom," the judge told Carr. "The court is going to order that whatever you hear in this courtroom do not discuss that with any other possible witness."

Dean is accused of shooting and killing Atatiana Jefferson in 2019 while he and his partner were responding to a call about an open door.

CONTINUED COVERAGE: Atatiana Jefferson Murder

Jefferson was inside her mother’s house playing video games with her nephew at the time. 

According to court documents, the boy told investigators Jefferson pulled a gun from her purse to investigate the noise she heard outside the window.

Police body camera video showed Dean shooting through a back window after yelling at Jefferson to show her hands. He was not heard identifying himself as an officer.

Dean resigned days after the incident.

It will be up to a jury to decide if he was justified in the deadly shooting.

Jury selection is scheduled to begin on Jan. 4 and testimony would potentially begin on Jan. 10.

It’s not clear of the judge will decide on either of those requests this week. The hearing continues Tuesday morning. 

Wilson said it’s not a 100% guarantee the judge will deny the motions.

"I would say that it's probably a very small chance," he said.

The judge granted most of the motions that the defense requested, but it cannot force the prosecution to turn over items they don’t have to under state law.


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