FORT WORTH, Texas — A gag order has been issued ahead of the trial involving Aaron Dean, the former Fort Worth police officer accused of killing a woman inside her own home.
Dean was arrested on a murder charge in Atatiana Jefferson's slaying.
Jefferson, 28, was killed in her Fort Worth home on Oct. 12 when Dean shot her through the window without first identifying himself as a police officer, an arrest warrant affidavit shows.
A gag order prevents information about a particular case from being released or discussed prior to the trial. That means those associated with the case, including attorneys and witnesses, cannot speak publicly about it.
In Dean’s case, the gag order, signed by Judge David Hagerman on Friday, says, “An order restricting publicity in this case is necessary in order to prevent imminent and irreparable harm to the judicial process.”
The documents also say, “Any attorney participating in, or any attorney associated with the trial of this cause…as well as the Defendant and any personnel of the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office, shall not furnish any statement or information…”
Fort Worth attorney Jack Strickland is not connected to the case. He read the gag order for the first time Monday.
“[Judge Hagerman’s] been very fair,” Strickland said. “I think he’s done exactly what he needs to do.”
“That’s what the gag order is meant to try and do, is not to allow people to influence the decisions of that impartial, hopefully impartial jury,” Strickland said.
Attorneys in the recent Amber Guyger trial in Dallas were also under a gag order.
“Judges are realizing how difficult it is sometimes to seat impartial jurors,” Strickland said. “The easiest target on a gag order is always the attorneys."
More on WFAA:
- Mother of Atatiana Jefferson asks for neutral third party to handle daughter's estate
- 'We have to do better': Citizens, leaders address hurt and racial tension after Atatiana Jefferson's death
- Atatiana Jefferson's funeral service beginning of 'long journey towards justice'
- 'We could do better': Fort Worth aims to improve citizen experience at City Council after last week's tense meeting
- Tarrant County DA to ask grand jury for murder indictment against Aaron Dean in Atatiana Jefferson's death
- Who is Aaron Dean and what might his attempted defense be?
- Verify: Did Atatiana Jefferson have a gun when she was shot by police?