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Aaron Dean's attorneys appeal manslaughter conviction, say judge made mistakes in trial

Aaron Dean strides out of a courtroom, wearing a black suit and a black tie. He does not look at the camera.
Miranda Suarez
Aaron Dean leaves a court hearing on Dec. 13, 2021. The former Fort Worth police officer was convicted in 2022 of manslaughter for the on-duty killing of Atatiana Jefferson.

Former Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean's attorneys say a Tarrant County judge made errors in the 2022 trial for the killing of Atatiana Jefferson and want Dean's conviction reversed.

In December, a jury found Aaron Dean guilty of manslaughter for shooting and killing 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson through a window of her home in 2019. Dean and another officer were there responding to a neighbor's call about doors being open at Jefferson's home.

Dean's attorney Bob Gill filed an appellant brief in the Second Court of Appeals Tuesday asking to reverse Dean's conviction.

"Appellant therefore prays that this Court sustain his points of error, reverse the case and remand to the trial court for further proceedings," the brief reads.

The brief alleges four main points of error in trial proceedings. The first states there was not enough evidence to allow jury the option of considering a manslaughter charge.

Instead, the attorney argues evidence and testimony shows Dean acted intentionally, meeting "deadly force with deadly force" as he was trained, and should only have faced a murder charge — the original charge in his indictment — over the lesser manslaughter charge.

"No testimony was ever developed that the shooting of decedent was less than an intentional act on (Dean's) part," the brief reads. "No evidence was adduced that (Dean) acted recklessly in this case."

Gill also wrote local publicity surrounding Jefferson's death did not ensure a fair trial. Dean's request to move the trial outside of Tarrant County was denied.

The brief states public comments and reports made on Jefferson's death "occurred against a backdrop of local and national racial unrest."

The two other alleged points of error in the case are:

  • "The trial court erroneously employed the general definition of reasonable belief in Penal Code sec. 1.07(42) over Appellant’s objection when the court should have relied on the specific definition in Penal Code Chapter 9"
  • "The trial court erred by not changing venue for the trial of the case because the State’s controverting affidavits were insufficient as a matter of law"

Dean's attorneys requested a new trial back in January without giving a reason for the request.

Gill declined KERA News' request for comment on the appeal, citing the original gag order issued for the case in 2019. The Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney's Office also declined a request for comment.

Dean is currently serving his sentence of 11 years, 10 months and 12 days in prison at the W. F. Ramsey Unit south of Houston.

Got a tip? Email Toluwani Osibamowo at You can follow Toluwani on Twitter @tosibamowo.

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Toluwani Osibamowo is a general assignments reporter for KERA. She previously worked as a news intern for Texas Tech Public Media and copy editor for Texas Tech University’s student newspaper, The Daily Toreador, before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She is originally from Plano.