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Change of trial venue requested for former Fort Worth officer charged in killing of Atatiana Jefferson

The request for a change of venue was filed among a flurry of other pre-trial motions from Aaron Dean's attorneys on Monday.

FORT WORTH, Texas — Attorneys for Aaron Dean, the former Fort Worth police officer charged in the shooting death of Atatiana Jefferson, are asking for a change of venue for his murder trial, which is scheduled to begin in January.

The request for a change of venue was filed among a flurry of other pre-trial motions from Dean's attorneys on Monday.

At least 10 other motions were filed Monday, and they are scheduled to be heard in a hearing on Dec. 6.

Most of the motions filed by Dean's attorneys were considered to be routine pre-trial requests, though asking for a change in venue was the most notable.

Dean's attorneys argued that in Tarrant County there is "so great a prejudice against Mr. Dean that he cannot receive a fair and impartial trial in Tarrant County."

"The amount of publicity generated as a result of the instant case has been so great that it has produced so much prejudice in the community that the likelihood of Mr. Dean receiving a fair and impartial trial is doubtful," attorneys Jim Lane and Miles Brissette wrote in the motion. "The publicity has been pervasive, prejudicial and inflammatory."

Dean is charged with murder in Jefferson's Oct. 12, 2019 death.

On that night, a neighbor had called police requesting a welfare check after he saw the door open at Jefferson's Fort Worth home. 

Jefferson, 28, was playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew when Dean walked into the backyard. She grabbed her gun and had gotten up to look out the window when she was shot, police records show. Jefferson died at the scene.

An arrest warrant stated three times that Dean did not announce that he was a police officer when he walked around the house. 

Dean did not give any statement to Fort Worth investigators on why he shot, officials said. In such investigations, it's common for a police officer to give a statement to investigators and to the internal affairs division of their police department. 

Dean resigned before he could be fired, Fort Worth Police Department officials said.

Dean's attorneys in their motion Monday said media coverage of the case has referred to Dean being dispatched on a welfare check. The attorneys called that depiction "incorrect" and said it "greatly affects the dynamics of the call and therefore the case."

Dean, who provided a sworn affidavit with the motion, said he was dispatched on an "open structure call," not a welfare check.

Dean also called coverage of the case "pervasive, prejudicial and inflammatory."

Dean's trial has been delayed during the pandemic and was scheduled to begin on Nov. 16, before another delay last month.

Here were the other motions filed by Dean's attorneys on Monday: 

  • A request for all statements made by Dean to be provided to his attorneys in writing
  • Disclosure of any documents signed by Dean
  • A motion to allow additional pre-trial motions
  • A motion for the court reporter to make complete record of the proceedings
  • A motion for disclosure of personal information about grand jurors and grand jury witnesses
  • A objection to separation of jury during deliberations
  • A request for access to physical evidence
  • A request for the state to reveal agreements between the state and anyone else