FORT WORTH, Texas - The trial for former Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean is being delayed until next May.
Dean is charged with the 2019 shooting death of Atatiana Jefferson, who was killed inside her mother’s home.
A Tarrant County judge on Wednesday granted the defense’s motion for continuance.
CONTINUED COVERAGE: Atatiana Jefferson Murder
The defense argued two of its expert witnesses were not available for the scheduled start of the trial in January.
Judge David Hagerman decided there was no substitute for those witnesses and that those witnesses would be beneficial to the defense’s strategy.
"This is not an indefinite delay, but the court is of the opinion that denial of the defense's motion for continuance would be an abuse of discretion and would result in an unfair trial and denial of the defendant’s rights under the 4th, 6th and 14th amendments," he said.
But Hagerman warned the lawyers there will be no other continuance granted in this case. He also decided not to rule on a change of venue motion at this time.
The rescheduled trial triggered emotions.
Natasha Ellison is a friend of Jefferson’s family and a passionate advocate for justice in the wake of her shooting death.
"I want closure, accountability, justice and everything the family wants and what Atatiana Jefferson deserves," she said.
With the new trial schedule, it will be more than two and half years since Dean shot Jefferson through a back window of her mother’s home. Dean was responding to a call about the front door of the home being left open.
"I just don’t understand. I mean I understand because I’m learning, and I read, and I research. When I leave, I’ll look up what Brady means," Ellison said. "I look up all the codes to make sure I’m educated, but I guess that’s just how it works. I’m hurting more for the family. They can’t move on."
Attorney Russell Wilson is not affiliated with the case. He says it boils down to the defendant’s right to a fair trial
"If you call a case to trial at a time when you know the defendant cannot put on evidence or witnesses, I think appellate courts are going to look very closely at that if the defendant gets convicted," he said. "So the cautious judge would generally try to accommodate the defendant's request so they could have their witnesses on."
Dean’s defense attorneys also want the trial moved out of Tarrant County because of how much publicity it has received and the public activism related to the case.
Jury selection could begin on May 9 with testimony begging on May 16.