FORT WORTH, Texas — On the first day of the murder trial of former Fort Worth officer Aaron Dean, Atatiana Jefferson's nephew, Zion Carr, took the stand.
Carr was inside the home on Oct. 12, 2019, when Dean shot and killed his aunt. He was the first witness to take the stand.
More than three years have passed since that day and the trial began on Monday.
The jury heard opening statements from both the prosecution and the defense before Carr took the stand.
"This is not a case about a drug deal gone bad, or a robbery. This is a case about a Fort Worth police officer -- a stranger to Atatiana -- who shot through the back of her bedroom window in the middle of the night when she was in her home and should've been safe. You are going to hear that this was an absolutely intentional act, an unjustifiable act that never should've happened," said Tarrant County prosecutor Ashlea Deener.
The defense had initially waived its option for an opening statement but later spoke to the jury.
"This case is about facts, and not emotions," said defense attorney Miles Brissette. "That gun was relevant. Everyone in Texas, everyone in the United States has the right to defend themselves in their home. This is a tragic accident. Tragically, Ms. Jefferson lost her life."
Carr was playing video games with his aunt, Jefferson, on that night in 2019. A neighbor had called police to conduct a welfare check on Jefferson's home after seeing a door open. Dean responded to the scene on an "open structure" call, arriving at the home at 2:29 a.m.
About one minute after first getting to the home, Dean gets to the back, never announcing his presence or that he was a police officer. Court documents said Atatiana heard someone creeping in her backyard, grabbed her gun and opened the blinds.
“Put your hands up! Show me your hands!” Dean shouted quickly.
Less than one second after he told Jefferson to show her hands, Dean fired. The single shot killed Atatiana Jefferson.
Carr was 8 years old at the time. On Monday, the now-11-year-old recounted the evening Jefferson was killed, stating that he was "thinking it was a dream" when she was shot.
Carr told the prosecution Monday that a door was open at the home that night because the hamburgers they were cooking had burned, causing smoke.
On the stand, Carr said he didn't hear or see anyone outside right before the shooting.
When asked by the prosecution if he knew his aunt had been hurt after being shot by Dean, Carr said Jefferson was "crying and shaking." He told the jury he was scared because he had seen Jefferson crying and thought it must have been serious.
The prosecution finished questioning Carr shortly before 10:30 a.m. Monday.
After a brief recess, Carr returned to the stand to be cross-examined by the defense.
Judge George Gallagher stopped the defense's cross-examination and a woman was accused of allegedly hand-signaling Carr while he was on the stand. Gallagher warned the woman that she was not allowed to hand signal any witnesses on the stand and asked her to leave the courtroom.
During his testimony Monday, Carr was very calm, but struggled to remember details about the incident years ago. He said he doesn't remember the sound of the gunshot that killed Jefferson but does remember her falling.
Carr also said he doesn't like to talk about what happened with anyone.
Court was in session for only half a day Monday, due to a funeral for one of Dean's former attorneys, Jim Lane. Lane died last Sunday.
A full day of testimony is expected when court resumes on Tuesday.