TARRANT COUNTY, Texas — High-profile witnesses were called to the Tim Curry Criminal Justice Center Thursday, including former Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price and former Fort Worth Chief of Police Ed Kraus.
Aaron Dean’s defense attorneys called them to testify in a hearing to, once again, have the former Fort Worth officer's trial moved out of Tarrant County.
Dean is accused of fatally shooting Atatiana Jefferson in her home while she babysat her nephew in October 2019.
Dean's attorneys believe statements made by city officials and news coverage following Jefferson's death were prejudicial against their client and tainted the public’s perception of the case.
Dean's attorneys also claim city leaders tried to appease the public with their statements.
During Thursday's hearing, they asked Price if this was a racial situation and did she intervene?
“You tried to diffuse what happened?" asked one attorney.
"I always try to diffuse a tragic situation,” answered Price.
Dean's defense also called Fort Worth councilmember Chris Nettles to the stand, saying he ran for city council on a platform to get justice for Jefferson and tried to use his influence once he was elected to put pressure on prosecutors and the judge.
Dean's attorneys said Nettles went to the judge’s courtroom to give him a letter.
“Did you attempt to give it to the judge?" asked one attorney.
“Yes, I did," answered Nettles.
The attorneys also dropped hints about what their defense strategy is going to be for the trial. They questioned Kraus about Jefferson's nephew Zion’s interview with forensic detectives.
“Zion told investigators when this happened that he saw the officer’s badge?” asked an attorney.
"Yes," answered Kraus.
Dean's defense also asked, “Zion told them his aunt did not do what police told her to?”
“I do not recall,” said Kraus.
But the question the judge will answer after this hearing is, can Dean get a fair trial in Tarrant county with everything that has been said and done?
The judge is expected to make his ruling before jury selection begins next week.