FORT WORTH, Texas (Court TV) — A former Texas police officer convicted of manslaughter last week for fatally shooting Atatiana Jefferson, has been sentenced to 11 years, 10 months and 12 days.
VIDEO: Watch the Sentencing
While responding to a welfare check, Aaron Dean, 38, shot Jefferson through a rear window of her home in 2019.
Prosecutors requested a maximum sentence of 20 years during closing arguments in the sentencing phase. But jurors also had the option of sentencing him to probation, which is what the defense asked jurors to give him.
After reading the jury’s recommendation, the court listened to victim impact statements on behalf of Atatiana Jefferson. Dean received credit for time-served and must serve at least 50% of his sentence before he’s eligible for parole.
The shooting occurred in the early morning hours of Oct. 12, 2019, when a neighbor called a non-emergency line for a welfare check because the house had a door open and lights on. Cops, including Dean, got to the home at 2:28 a.m. Dean walked into the backyard, saw Atatiana Jefferson in a bedroom window, and ordered her to put her hands up. A split-second later, Dean fired a single bullet, killing Jefferson.
Jefferson, 28, who had recently moved in with her ailing mother to care for her, had been babysitting her 8-year-old nephew, Zion, at the time of her death. They had stayed up playing video games.
Fort Worth Police released body camera footage of the incident later that day. Two days later, Dean resigned and was charged with Jackson’s murder.
The arrest warrant for Dean, however, included a quote from Zion having stated his aunt had taken a gun out of her purse after hearing suspicious sounds. It is not clear whether Dean saw Jackson’s gun through the window, and Fort Worth Police interim Chief Ed Kraus emphasized that either way, there was no excuse for the killing of Jackson.
Media and the police have been criticized for bringing up Jackson’s gun, saying it deflects blame; and that Jackson’s gun is irrelevant. Lee Merritt, an attorney for the Jefferson family, accused members of the Fort Worth Police Department of providing a defense for Dean. Critics also pointed out that the gun was rightfully in the home.
According to Dean’s arrest warrant, the other officer at the scene reported that she could only see Jefferson’s face through the window when Dean shot her. Footage from Dean’s own bodycam show the view through the window pane was blocked by the reflection of Dean’s flashlight. In addition, the video shows that the window was covered by blinds and Dean did not announce that he had a gun before firing, as per officer training.
DAY 10 – 12/20/22
- Jury reaches sentencing verdict
- Aaron Dean sentenced to 11 years, 10 months, and 12 days
- Victim Impact Statements
DAY 9 – 12/19/22
- The sequestered jury deliberated for more than 8 hours with no verdict.
DAY 8 – 12/16/22
- Closing arguments for the penalty phase
- The sentencing range for manslaughter is 2 to 20 years, and there is a possibility that Dean could receive probation. If the sentence is less than ten years, the sentence will be probated, and the judge has to grant the probated sentence.
DAY 7 – 12/15/22
- A jury of 7 men and 5 women found Aaron Dean guilty of manslaughter in the 2019 on-duty shooting of Atatiana Jefferson
- Sentencing will take place Friday, December 16 at 10am ET
- The jury will decide on a sentencing recommendation for Dean — they are sequestered at a nearby hotel
- The sentencing range is 2-20 years, but the judge could sentence him to probation
- Aaron Dean was taken into custody after the verdict
- Atatiana Jefferson’s family left the courtroom in tears and was escorted out a side entrance away from the media
- Dean’s family was also escorted out a side entrance
DAY 6 – 12/14/22
- The jury hears closing arguments:
- The jury started their deliberations just after 11:00am CT Wednesday. Jurors continued their deliberations throughout the day until they were sent to a hotel, where they were sequestered.
- There was one question from the jury at 1:50pm CT: They asked the bailiff for posted notes and a few crime scene photos – the judge granted their request.
DAY 5 – 12/13/22
- The defense calls law enforcement training expert Dr. Jay Coons to the stand before resting its case
- Following the testimony of rebuttal witness Jonathyn Priest, a forensic analyst, the state rests
DAY 4 – 12/12/22
- Defendant Aaron Dean takes the stand
- On direct, Dean testified he saw an adult torso through the window and the barrel of a gun.
- On cross-examination, Dean admits he never saw a gun.
- The officers were on the scene one minute and 17 seconds before Dean fired a shot into Jefferson’s window
- Dean never told his partner, Officer Carol Darch, that he saw a weapon when they entered the home
- Dean failed to provide medical intervention to Jefferson as she lay bleeding on the floor
- Dean said at any time, if he saw Jefferson with a gun, he would have shot her
- READ MORE:
DAY 3 – 12/7/22
- Prosecutors unexpectedly rested their case-in-chief Wednesday afternoon
- Forensic pathologist Dr. Richard Christian Fries testified Atatiana Jefferson’s case of death was a bullet to the upper torso, and the manner of death ruled a homicide
- Outside the presence of the jury, the defense revealed that Jefferson had a small amount of methamphetamine in her system
- Jurors viewed crime scene photos of the crime scene
- The defense claims Lee Merritt may have violated the court’s gag order again, which prohibits all attorneys and family members from speaking about the case.
- Court will resume Monday, Dec. 12, with the beginning of the defense’s presentation
DAY 2 – 12/6/22
- Jurors watch Atatiana Jefferson’s nephew forensic video
- Office Carol Darch becomes emotional when telling jurors her biggest concern the night of the shooting
- Abriel Talbert, a City of Fort Worth 911 Call Taker, explains decisions when dispatching officers to the scene
- Neighbor James Smith, who made the 911 call, testifies
- READ MORE:
DAY 1 – 12/5/22
- The jury hears opening statements:
- WATCH: TX v. Aaron Dean: Defense Opening Statement
- Atatiana Jefferson’s nephew testifies about what happened the night Jefferson died
- Family attorney Lee Merritt, who is a sworn witness for the state, was reprimanded for conducting interviews and watching trial proceedings
- READ MORE:
Court TV field producer Tiffany Smith contributed to this report.
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