FORT WORTH, Texas — In a stunning turn of events, after three days of testimony, the prosecution has rested its case in the murder trial of former Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean, who's accused in the shooting death of Atatiana Jefferson.
The judge also said court would not be in session for both Thursday and Friday, due to scheduling with a defense witness.
The first two days of the trial were focused on emotion and eye-witness testimony. Day three was about the science and family, yet filled with audio issues and off-camera testimony.
Wednesday started with Fort Worth crime scene investigator James Van Gorkom taking the stand to testify about what he found at Jefferson’s home after she was shot and killed by Dean.
Gorkom said he arrived at Jefferson’s home to collect scan data. He walked the court through crime scene photos, including photos of Jefferson’s body in the home, and a 3D scan that was made of the home. All were entered into evidence.
Following Gorkom’s testimony, the jury heard from Fort Worth Detective Doug Rohloff. He investigated Jefferson’s shooting and walked the jury through collecting Dean’s firearm, ammunition and body camera from the scene.
The third person to take the stand Wednesday was Fort Worth Police Officer Balderas. He was the lead officer at the crime scene.
“The only thing I remember is I couldn’t, I wasn’t going to go in the house until the warrant was signed,” said Balderas.
He said he took nearly 300 photos of the scene.
The defense pressed him on issues concerning following general orders and standard operating procedures with handling evidence and processing the scene.
The video feed in the courtroom went down, as paramedic Francisco Chairez took the stand.
Chairez arrived at Jefferson’s home after the Fort Worth Fire Department, he testified he tried for over 20 minutes to save Jefferson’s life, performing CPR and giving her epinephrin.
Chairez said someone had put on a chest seal to stop Jefferson’s bleeding – a noteworthy statement because one argument the prosecution is making is that Dean made no effort to save her life.
When the jury returned following an hour lunch break, the jury was shown a portion of the interview with Jefferson’s nephew, Zion Carr, from the night she was killed.
Then, Tarrant County Deputy Medical Examiner Dr. Richard Fries was called to the stand. Fries walked the jury through the photos of Jefferson’s body and the wounds she sustained when she was shot and killed.
Fries called Jefferson’s wounds devastating and said, “I would not expect someone to survive them.”
The eldest sister of Jefferson, Ashley Carr, was called to stand. She briefly was able to describe Jefferson's goals, the medical needs of her family, including their mother Yolanda and their sister Amber, which is why Jefferson was taking care of Zion.
Carr said Jefferson’s home, where their mother also lived, often had the side door unlocked. “It was just one of those homes, where you could come in.”
Though, after a brief testimony by Carr, the judge called for the trial to end early for Wednesday. He said he and the lawyers needed to discuss some things “in private.”
On Tuesday, three witnesses took the stand in the murder trial of former Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean: Dean's former police partner, Fort Worth Police Officer Carol Darch; former City of Fort Worth call taker, Abriel Talbert; and James Smith, the neighbor who initially called the non-emergency line.
Prosecution called on Darch to revisit what happened that night and if they followed protocol when responding to the "open structure call." Darch described responding to the scene believing the home might have been burglarized based on the state of the home at the time.
The person who initiated that call, former 911 call taker Talbert, also took the stand Tuesday and described why she input that call as an "open structure call" and not a welfare check, which Jefferson's neighbor James Smith had made that evening.
Talbert explained that there's no way for officers to see if a call is an emergency or non-emergency and she felt the call needed an "open structure" label, not "welfare check."
Finally, Jefferson's neighbor, Smith, who made the initial welfare check call was the final witness to take the stand Tuesday. Smith said he was concerned about his neighbors after seeing their door open.
You can also watch it in the below embed:
Live updates below:
2:50 p.m.: The judge said there were things he and the lawyers needed to discuss in private and called for an end to the day.
2:45 p.m.: The eldest sister of Jefferson, Ashley Carr, was called to the stand to testify. But in a matter of minutes after describing the dreams of Jefferson, the home and the medical needs of her family, Carr was not cross-examined.
2:00 p.m.: Tarrant County Medical Examiner Dr. Richard Fries was called to stand. He performed the autopsy on Jefferson. Fries walked the jury through photos of Jefferson's body, and explained each wound she sustained in the shooting.
Fries said Jefferson had "very devastating wounds, and would not expect somebody to survive."
Fries said Jefferson's cause of death was a "gunshot wound to the torso," and determined the manner as homicide.
1:55 p.m.: The jury was once again shown a portion of Zion Carr, Jefferson's nephew, testimony from the night she was killed.
12:00 p.m.: Lunch break called.
11:30 a.m.: Sidebar called.
10:50 a.m.: Fort Worth Police Officer Balderas takes the stand. Balderas testified about his response to the scene and collecting evidence.
10:06 a.m.: Fort Worth Police Department Detective Doug Rohloff takes the stand. Rohloff recovered Dean's firearm and magazine from the scene. He also testfied on Dean's body camera and how it operated.
9:25 a.m.: Crime scene photos, including photos of Jefferson's body, were entered into evidence and shown to the jury as Gorkom testified about the documentation of the scene.
9:10 a.m.: The jury enters the courtroom as Fort Worth crime scene investigator James Van Gorkom prepares to take the stand. Gorkom said he arrived on scene after the death of Jefferson around 5 a.m. to collect scan data.