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Jury selection begins in murder trial of former Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean

Aaron Dean Trial
Rodger Mallison
/
Fort Worth Report
Former Fort Worth Police Officer Aaron Dean is on trial for murder accused of shooting and killing Atatiana Jefferson in October 2019.

Dean is on trial for the on-duty killing of Atatiana Jefferson. He is accused of shooting Jefferson through the window of her own home in the early hours of Oct. 12, 2019.

The jury pool will answer a 25-page questionnaire Monday, and some will return Wednesday and Thursday for additional questioning, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Jury selection is expected to wrap up Thursday or Friday. Attorneys will review the questionnaires Tuesday.

Judge George Gallagher of the 396th District Court asked prospective jurors if they'd seen or read news coverage of the case. Jurors who raised their hands will return to court at 10 a.m. Wednesday. The rest will return 9:30 a.m. Thursday.

During pretrial hearings on Nov. 16, Gallagher had said he’d like to stick to the schedule of jury selection beginning Nov. 28 and a trial date for Monday, Dec. 5.

Dean’s attorneys had argued that their client can’t get a fair trial locally. They said statements from officials like former Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, who condemned Dean’s actions in the press, have biased potential jurors.

Price, former Fort Worth Police Chief Ed Kraus, and current City Council member Chris Nettles testified on Nov. 17.

During that testimony, Dean’s defense team questioned witnesses about the relevance of Jefferson’s gun. In an arrest warrant affidavit, one of the witnesses to the shooting, Jefferson’s nephew Zion Carr, said his aunt pointed a gun at the window before Dean shot her.

In a press conference after the shooting, Price called the gun “irrelevant.”

“Citizens have a right to have weapons in their home,” Price reiterated on the witness stand.

Dean’s defense team has asked twice for a change of venue in this much-delayed murder trial. A previous judge denied that previous request and decided the trial would take place in Tarrant County, but he was removed from the case.

The Star-Telegram reported that Gallagher would wait until jury selection takes place to make a ruling for a change of venue as requested by defense attorneys.

Got a tip? Email Miranda Suarez at msuarez@kera.org. You can follow Miranda on Twitter @MirandaRSuarez.

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Miranda Suarez is KERA’s Fort Worth reporter. Before coming to North Texas, she was the Lee Ester News Fellow at Wisconsin Public Radio, where she covered statewide news from the capital city of Madison. Miranda is originally from Massachusetts and started her public radio career at WBUR in Boston.