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No Black jurors chosen for murder trial of former Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean

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
Former Fort Worth Police Officer Aaron Dean is on trial for murder in the shooting death Atatiana Jefferson in 2019.

Story updated Dec. 2, 12:01 p.m.

A jury of 12 is ready to hear arguments in the murder trial of former Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean, which is set to begin Monday after repeated delays.

Dean is on trial for the 2019 on-duty killing of Atatiana Jefferson, who he shot through the window of her home. Jefferson’s name is often invoked alongside the names of other Black Americans killed by white police officers in recent years, including George Floyd.

This week, Judge George Gallagher and attorneys on both sides spent long days in court, selecting from a pool of 200 potential jurors. The 14 they landed on — 12 jurors and two alternates — includes no Black jurors, but several people of color.

Lawyers questioned many potential jurors individually, asking about their preconceived notions about the case, the news outlets they watch, their opinions about law enforcement, and their participation in Black Lives Matter protests.

Dean’s attorneys had also asked to move the trial to another county, arguing that the well of public opinion has been poisoned against Dean. They pointed to comments from local officials like the former Fort Worth mayor Betsy Price, who condemned Dean’s actions in the press.

Gallagher has not officially denied that change of venue request in court filings. He told reporters on Friday that he would make the final decision about the change of venue at 8:30 a.m. on Monday. That's the day the trial is officially scheduled to begin at the Tim Curry Criminal Justice Center in downtown Fort Worth.

There was some speculation on whether the trial would be delayed again, because Dean’s lead counsel, Jim Lane, died on Sunday, the day before jury selection was set to begin. The trial will still start Monday, but the court will work a half day so people can go to Lane’s funeral in the afternoon, Gallagher said.

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.