FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – The trial for former Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean, who’s accused of killing Atatiana Jefferson in 2019, is on hold yet again.
The pause comes after Dean’s attorneys asked for Judge David Haggerman to recuse himself from the trial.
According to a filing from Dean’s lawyers, Judge Haggerman “has grown increasingly hostile, overbearing and rude” to their side.
In response, Judge Haggerman filed on June 13, saying he will not voluntarily recuse himself from the case. Adding to the delay, the hearing for his proposed recusal isn’t set yet, and may not happen until the end of June.
In a hearing Monday where the defense requested to address scheduling conflicts for the trial, Judge George Gallagher said the case couldn’t move forward until there is a decision on the recusal.
Also during Monday’s hearing, prosecutors said they had cancelled vacations to remain available for the June trial date, but indicated they would also like more time, specifically as it relates to selecting a jury for the high profile trial.
Dean attorney Miles Brissette said the two sides had discussions about bringing in prospective jurors to fill out long questionnaires. Attorneys would then want time to review the responses, before returning to question and select potential jurors for the case.
Jury selection was set to begin on June 21, with the trial starting two days later on the 23rd.
In a motion filed last week by Dean’s attorneys, they argue two other cases they are working on currently have trial dates that could conflict with the case. Because the defendants in those cases are still in jail, and the victim in one is a child, they argue local and state rules give those cases priority to be heard.
“If you have a sexual assault case involving a child victim, and a person is in custody, those are two statutory reasons for those cases to go first,” said Fort Worth defense attorney Benson Varghese.
Varghese said on June 10 that layers of state, regional and local rules regarding court priorities for scheduling are clear and have to be followed. However, all sides could still agree to sit down and work something out.
“Traditionally in Tarrant county when conflicts have come up, the parties have tried to get together to see if there was a resolution that worked for everyone,” he said.
Dean is charged with murder for the shooting death of Jefferson in October 2019. The trial was delayed in December due to scheduling conflicts with expert witnesses. It was delayed again in May after defense attorney Jim Lane became ill and was unable to prepare. At the time, Haggerman said the trial would being in June “without exception.”