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Judge postpones ex-cop Aaron Dean's murder trial until June, but refuses to change location

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. Dean is a former Fort Worth police officer who is charged with murder in the on-duty killing of Atatiana Jefferson.

Dean is a former Fort Worth police officer charged with murder in the 2019 on-duty killing of Atatiana Jefferson. Dean's attorneys argued that he couldn't get a fair trial in Tarrant County because of the extensive media coverage of the case, a request the judge denied.

A district court judge ruled on Wednesday that Aaron Dean's trial will take place in Tarrant County, denying Dean's lawyers' request to move proceedings elsewhere.

Dean is a former Fort Worth police officer charged with murder in the on-duty killing of 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson.

In October 2019, Jefferson's neighbor called a non-emergency line after seeing that her door was open. Dean was one of the police officers who responded. That intended welfare check ended with Dean shooting Jefferson through a window, never identifying himself as an officer, body camera footage shows.

Dean's attorneys contended that the widespread news coverage of the case had poisoned Dean's chances for a fair trial in Tarrant County. They showed hours and hours of news clips in court, starting at a hearing on Monday, but were unsuccessful.

The trial date gets pushed, again

Judge David Hagerman of the 297th District Court did agree with the defense's other major request: to postpone the trial once again.

The trial was scheduled to begin on May 16 but is now set for June 23.

Hagerman previously said thathe would not grant any more delays in the trial that has already been pushed off by the COVID-19 pandemic and the unavailability of the defense's expert witnesses.

But in documents filed with the court Monday morning, Dean's defense team said that lead attorney Jim Lane is seriously ill, has not been able to participate in trial preparation and wouldn't be able to participate in upcoming court dates. Without him, the team doesn’t have enough experience to work on the case, defense attorneys wrote.

“Lead counsel Jim Lane is by far the most experienced criminal defense attorney on the defense team,” the court filing said. “Mr. Lane has by far the most experience defending peace officers against serious charges such as the charges brought in these cases. Mr. Lane is one of the leading lawyers in the State of Texas, if not the country, specializing in defending police officers accused in shooting cases."

The defense also argued that they haven’t had enough time to go through evidence in the case that the prosecution recently provided.

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

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Miranda Suarez is KERA’s Tarrant County accountability 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.