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Aaron Dean murder trial delayed again as defense team seeks new judge

Aaron Dean strides out of a courtroom, wearing a black suit and a black tie. He does not look at the camera.
Miranda Suarez
/
KERA
Aaron Dean leaves a court hearing last year. The attorneys representing Dean have accused the judge presiding over the case of bias and have requested a new judge.

Judge David Hagerman, who’s presiding over Dean’s trial, refused to give up the case after the defense team accused him of bias. Now, the trial will be delayed while another judge decides if Hagerman should recuse himself.

Dean was indicted for murder in 2019 after the on-duty killing of 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson. Dean shot Jefferson through the window of her own home, never identifying himself as an officer, body camera footage shows.

Dean’s defense team filed a motion after 9 p.m. on Friday, accusing Hagerman of bias and asking him to step down from the case. Hagerman refused to voluntarily recuse himself, so the motion will go to the 8th Administrative Judicial Region, which will decide whether to assign a new judge.

The conflict arose out of the newest trial date. Jury selection in Dean’s trial was scheduled to begin on June 21. Hagerman set that date in May, after granting multiple trial delays requested by the defense in previous months.

Soon after that June date was set, though, Dean’s defense team argued for another postponement. The new trial schedule conflicted with other trials scheduled to begin this summer, Dean’s attorneys wrote in legal filings. They argued that those trials should get priority, in part because their other clients are awaiting trial in jail, unlike Dean, who is out on bond.

At a hearing on June 3, Hagerman "ignored" those conflicts, the defense wrote. In the motion requesting that Hagerman take himself off the trial, Dean's attorneys used that as an example of what they called Hagerman's bias against them.

“Defense attorneys present at the most recent hearing in this case could not recall a time when an elected criminal district judge in Tarrant County, Texas was so clearly, persistently, and overtly hostile to one of the parties before it,” Dean's legal team wrote.

Dean’s trial will be delayed again while the decision whether to assign a new judge is pending, which could come the week after next, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

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.