The murder trial for former Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean has been postponed again. Aaron Dean is accused of shooting 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson through the open window of her mother’s Fort Worth home in 2019.
During a pre-trial hearing, which began Monday and continued into Wednesday, Tarrant County Judge David Hagerman denied a motion by the defense to move the trial to another county. Aaron Dean’s lawyers claimed that media coverage of the shooting had tainted the jury pool against the 37-year-old defendant.
After watching more than 15 hours of media coverage, the judge ruled that the case would remain in Tarrant County. “It is the finding of this court that while the news media coverage was pervasive and prejudicial, it was not inflammatory,” said Judge Hagerman. “Defendant’s motion for change of venue is hereby denied.”
After settling that motion, the defense attorneys made final arguments on a motion to delay the trial, stating they needed time to review new evidence and citing the deteriorating health of lead defense attorney Jim Lane. The defense team said that Lane is an integral part of Dean’s defense and had been ill for the last several weeks and needed time to recover. News reports did not disclose the nature of Lane’s illness.
“Lead counsel Jim Lane is by far the most experienced criminal defense attorney on the defense team,” read the court filing. “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.”
Judge Hagerman granted the continuance, moving the scheduled trial date from May 16 to June 23. “The trial shall begin on June 23, with or without Mr. Lane,” Judge Hagerman stated.
Aaron Dean’s trial was delayed for several months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The case was then set to be tried in January 2022 but was again postponed because the defense said that several of its expert witnesses had scheduling conflicts.
Jury selection for the trial will begin on June 20. Meanwhile, Aaron Dean has remained out on bail since the October 2019 shooting.