The former Fort Worth police officer charged with murder in the shooting death of a woman in 2019 indicated on Tuesday that he had elected to have a jury, not a judge, consider evidence in the case at trial and, if he is convicted, determine his sentence.
At a status conference, state District Judge David Hagerman said that he intended to discuss scheduling a trial in the death of Atatiana Jefferson with the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office and Aaron Dean’s attorneys. Dates were not raised on the court record.
Dean sat in the 297th District Court gallery as his case was called at the top of the judge’s 10 a.m. docket.
On a document summarizing the case’s status, prosecutor Dale Smith noted that his office would not offer Dean a plea bargain.
Hagerman reminded that he had issued a gag order directing prosecutors and Dean’s attorneys not to furnish outside of court information on the case.
Hagerman in October set a tentative window for Dean’s trial and said that although scheduling in the case may change, the trial will likely be held in August.
Fort Worth Councilman Chris Nettles on Monday wrote a letter to Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney Sharen Wilson and Hagerman noting frustration that a trial had not been scheduled.
“We must uphold our country’s commitment to our justice system and ensure that criminals are held accountable for their actions. This case has been dragged out over 624 days,” Nettles wrote.
Dean is accused of shooting Jefferson to death on Oct. 12, 2019. Jefferson died as she was babysitting her 8-year-old nephew at her mother’s house in the 1200 block of East Allen Avenue in Fort Worth.
A neighbor telephoned the police because he was worried after seeing open doors at the house, and Dean and another officer responded to the call. Jefferson, who was 28 and Black, heard noise outside and thought a prowler was in the yard. She held a gun and looked through a bedroom window as Dean fired once from outside through the window, killing her, according to an account from the nephew that is described in an affidavit supporting an arrest warrant for the former officer. Dean is 36 and white.