Jury to begin deliberating on Aaron Dean sentencing Dec. 19

The former Fort Worth police officer faces two to 20 years in prison.

TARRANT COUNTY, Texas — A Tarrant County jury is now deliberating the sentence for former Fort Worth officer Aaron Dean. The jury found him guilty of manslaughter in the 2019 shooting death of Atatiana Jefferson last week. 

The sentencing phase resumed Monday. And the process has been filled with controversy. 

Dean’s guilty verdict was reached after five days of testimony and more than 13 hours of deliberation. He was then taken into custody and transported to a Tarrant County jail. 

Now, the former officer faces two to 20 years in prison. 

If the jury sentences Dean to 10 years or less and recommends that it be probated, Tarrant County Judge George Gallagher will have to grant it. If the sentence is more than 10 years, Dean cannot get probations and he cannot get an appeal bond, according to WFAA investigative reporter Tanya Eiserer. 

The prosecution and defense held closing arguments Monday. 

The prosecution posed the question: What is Atatiana Jefferson’s life worth? 

“Her life is worth so much more than a probation sentence,” Prosecutor Ashlea Deener said. “This family, her memory, her legacy, this community deserves more.” 

The defense pushed for the jury to take their emotions out of it and to do what was fair and just. 

“That’s really what this case is worth,” Gill said about giving Dean probation.  

Gill went on to say Dean was a good man, referencing character testimony given by family and church friends. 

“He’s a God-fearing, law abiding citizen of our county,” said Gill. 

The prosecution was given the final rebuttal closing argument. 

“15 minutes a month,” is that really what her life is worth, Smith said in reference to the jury possibly sentencing Dean to probation. 

“She deserved better from that defendant,” Smith said. “And she deserves a sentence from you… Give him the maximum.” 

Sentencing phase testimony 

As the punishment phase proceedings began around 8:20 a.m. Friday morning, the prosecution called Dr. Kyle Clayton, a psychologist who conducted Dean’s employment personality evaluation, to the stand to be vetted ahead of the jury being brought in.  

But during this process, Judge Gallagher locked the courtroom after learning Fort Worth City Councilman Chris Nettles violated a gag order in the case. Nettles now has a show-cause hearing on Jan. 4 at noon, for three counts of contempt of court for interviews he gave following Dean’s conviction and a press release. 

Judge Gallagher also called Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker to the courtroom and said she was too in contempt of court for violating the gag order following her release of a written statement. She too will face a hearing. 

Once Judge Gallagher reopened the courtroom, proceedings in the sentencing phase resumed, and Dr. Clayton was called to testify on the prosecution’s behalf. 

Clayton, one of the psychologists used by the Fort Worth Police Department, said he conducted Dean’s pre-employment psych evaluation on March 29, 2017. 

Clayton said after interviewing Dean, he identified Dean’s problem areas — which included grandiosity, interpersonal difficulties, dominance and superiority. 

Clayton also said he believed Dean had a narcissistic personality and felt Dean would not be able to work well with others, and he failed him after his evaluation.

“He was not psychologically suitable to be a Fort Worth police officer,” Clayton told the jury. 

In cross-examination, the defense pointed out that three other psychologists said Dean was fit for duty. 

Following Clayton’s testimony, the prosecution called a woman who filed an assault charge against Dean for a 2004 incident while attending UTA. 

She described the incident for the jury, saying, “He took his finger and touched my right breast and tracing his finger over my breast.” 

She said she told Dean she was uncomfortable, he stopped and told her not to tell anyone what happened, as she started leaving the room. She told the jury she gave a verbal report and written statements to campus police.

Dean pleaded no contest and was given a citation by Arlington police. 

In cross-examination, the defense asked about “social adjustment issues” due to her and Dean being homeschooled. 

The witness denied that being homeschooled played a role in her adjusting to society. She was then called down from the stand. 

The prosecution then called Jefferson’s oldest brother, Adarius Carr, to the stand. In an emotional showing, Carr described his sister and the last time he saw her before she was shot and killed by Dean. 

After Carr’s testimony, the prosecution rested its sentencing case. 

Dean’s defense team then called a man he went to church with who called him noble and a servant, as a probation officer to try to convince the jury that would be a fitting punishment. 

The defense then called a training officer, followed by Dean’s mother, Donna Dean. 

“He wanted to make a difference in people’s lives and help people,” when asked what Dean said when he told his family that he wanted to be a police officer.

The defense called Dean’s younger brother and sister to the stand to further drive home that they believe Dean is humble and a rule follower. 

Once the defense rested, the prosecution called rebuttal witness, Jefferson’s eldest sister Ashley Carr to the stand. Ashley talked about the relationship Jefferson had with her nephew Zion, and how Jefferson’s death has affected Zion over the last three years. 

Ashley said Zion is having panic attacks and has a therapist and school workers who help him. 

As Ashley stepped down from the stand, both sides rested. 

Judge Gallagher then met with both the prosecution and defense, concerning closing arguments and deliberations. Both side opted to begin closings and deliberations on Monday, Dec. 19.  

Trial recap

The murder trial began on Monday, Dec. 5. 

Several witnesses for both the prosecution and defense took the stand, including emotional testimony from Atatiana Jefferson’s now 11-year-old nephew Zion Carr, the neighbor who dialed 911 to request a welfare check at Jefferson’s home, Dean’s former partner and Dean himself. 

Dean testified that he saw someone point a gun at him from the other side of the window, and his attorneys argued the shooting was self-defense.

Dean was visibly shaken when he started to testify about what happened. He told the jury he started shouting commands for the silhouette to “put up your hands, show me your hands.”

Said Dean: “I started getting that second command out, I saw the barrel of the gun, and when I saw that gun pointing at me… I shot a single shot from my service weapon.”

Prosecutors have argued that Dean violated his training and general orders, and did not identify himself as a Fort Worth police officer.

Prosecutor Dale Smith hammered Dean over the mistakes allegedly made in responding to the call at Jefferson’s home, especially driving home the fact that he did not see the hands of the ‘silhouette’ in the window nor identify to his partner there was a gun, or immediately start CPR on Jefferson.

“I know you’re crying now, but you weren’t crying when you decided not to administer CPR to Atatiana,” Smith said to Dean.

After five days of testimony, closing arguments were held on Wednesday, Dec. 14. 

Dean’s defense attorney Bob Gill opened by saying, “A tragedy doesn’t always equal a crime; it doesn’t always equal a law violation.” 

Gill said Dean had the right to self-defense and that Jefferson lost her rights the moment, “She [Atatiana] pointed a firearm at a Fort Worth police officer… the rights stop there,” Gill said. “It’s a crime and it’s an unlawful act.”

Both prosecution attorneys had closing statements. 

Prosecutor Ashlea Deener opened. “The power you have today is to hold him responsible, it’s to tell them [Atatiana’s family] that it all wasn’t in vain, it’s to say that she [Atatiana] matters. They matter, eastside matters. To say that we protect everyone.”  

Prosecutor Dale Smith addressed the jury in a rebuttal closing argument. Smith told the jury, Jefferson’s “only crime was love and protection for her nephew, not pointing a gun at a Fort Worth police officer.”

In closing, Smith said, “A tragedy, an accident that’s spilling your milk at breakfast… This is murder.” 

WFAA will stream the trial on multiple platforms — including WFAA+, YouTube and wfaa.com. (WFAA+ is available on Roku and Amazon Fire.)

You can also watch it in the below embed:

Live updates below: 

3:40 p.m.: WFAA learns the jury asked to see the bodycam video and the Fort Worth Police Department General Orders (procedural rules) around 2 p.m.

9:55 a.m.: Jury dismissed to go deliberate Dean’s sentence. 

9:46 a.m.: Prosecutor Dale Smith rises to addresses the jury in a rebuttal closing argument. 

“15 minutes a month,” is that really what her life is worth, Smith said in reference to the jury possibly sentencing Dean to probation. 

“She deserved better from that defendant,” Smith said. “And she deserves a sentence from you.”

“Give him the maximum.”

9:25 a.m.: Defense attorney Bob Gill begins his closing argument.  “That’s really what this case is worth,” Gill said about giving Dean probation.  

“He’s a God-fearing, law abiding citizen of our county,” said Gill.

“There’s nothing to gain by sending this man to the penitentiary,” said Gill.

Gill had Dean stand up at the end of his closing. “He’s a good man, he’s a very good,” Gill said. “We’re asking that you take into consideration all of those good qualities that you heard about him.”

9:13 a.m.: Prosecutor Ashlea Deener begins closing arguments. 

“Her life is worth so much more than a probation sentence,” Deener said. “This family, her memory, her legacy, this community deserves more.”

“A 28-year-old woman died and you give yourself a fine job, you give yourself a B?” 

“Mercy has been shown already to this defendant when you returned your verdict as manslaughter.” 

9:06 a.m.: The jury is brought into the courtroom and Judge Gallagher begins reading them their instructions ahead of deliberating Dean’s punishment. Judge Gallagher says Dean has requested community supervision, in which he would determine the conditions. 

9:00 a.m.: Defense is claiming the Dean family is receiving death threats, including some by the man who was arrested and escorted of the courtroom Friday, Dec. 16. 

“My goal is to protect everyone,” said Judge Gallagher, as he addressed the man’s arrest. 

3:40 p.m.: Court proceedings are over for the day. 

3:35 p.m.: The prosecution and defense rest in sentencing phase. 

3:33 p.m.: The jury is brought back in. Carr explains Zion’s care following Jefferson’s death. 

3:27 p.m.: Court proceedings resume without the jury. Carr says Jefferson’s nephew, Zion blames himself for her death. She says Zion was having panic attacks and didn’t go to school following his testimony. 

3:24 p.m.: As Carr began explaining her relationship with her sister, the defense called for an objection and to approach the bench. 

3:21 p.m.: Prosecution calls Ashley Carr, Jefferson’s eldest sister to the stand as a rebuttal witness. 

3:20 p.m.: Alyssa said she disagrees with the jury’s verdict after asked directly by prosecution and steps down from stand. 

3:17 p.m.: Prosecution passes Alyssa to defense. Questioned over the inherent dangers of police work, field training, and deadly force. 

3:16 p.m.: Cross-examination begins by prosecution. Questioned over Dean grading himself over the response to Jefferson’s home. 

3:11 p.m.: Adam steps down, and defense calls Dean’s sister, Alyssa to the stand, who is currently a police officer. She described Dean as hard-working, humble and caring. 

3:02 p.m.: The defense calls Adam Dean to the stand, Aaron’s Dean younger brother. Adam spoke to Dean’s penchant for learning, helping people and being a good uncle to his young daughter. 

2:48 p.m.: Jury asked to leave courtroom after defense asked citizen to be sworn-in over possible disruption. The man was arrested after trying to ask the judge why he was being sworn-in. 

2:46 p.m.: Redirected to defense. Questioned over reactions outside courtroom after verdict read. 

2:44 p.m.: Cross examination begins. 

2:30 p.m.: Detective steps down from the stand. The defense calls Dean’s mother, Donna Dean, to the stand. 

“He wanted to make a difference in people’s lives and help people,” when asked what Dean said when he told his family that he wanted to be a police officer.

Donna described her son as faithful, industrious and a rule follower.

2:24 p.m.: Cross examination by prosecution begins. The prosecution questioned the detective over training scenarios then passed the witness back over to the defense. 

2:10 p.m.: Defense witness steps down. The defense calls Fort Worth detective, who was one of Dean’s field training officer’s, to the stand to testify. 

The detective says Dean was “willing to learn and wanting to learn.” And Dean was reception to corrections. 

“Nothing ever stood out to me that there was ever any issue,” he testified. 

He said Dean was humble. 

2:05 p.m.: Cross-examination by prosecution begins. 

“I need to… We are in a court of law and laws give us guidance, I think there are certain ways he should be held accountable… So, given the law as Christians, we are to submit to authorities of the law and there are things we should go by,” when asked if she thought Dean should be held accountable for the death of Jefferson.

1:55 p.m.: The defense calls a woman who is a family friend and attended church with Dean. 

“He led by leadership,” she said. “He always did what we asked him to do… and he’s very skilled musically.” She also called Dean humble. 

12:37 p.m.: Livingston steps down from stand. Judge Gallagher calls break for lunch. 

12:03 p.m.: The defense called Christina Livingston to the stand, a court officer for the Tarrant County probation office. She’s outlining what restrictions there are for probation, a possible outcome for sentencing. 

11:56 p.m.: The defense called Tim Foster, a person who went to Dean’s church for several years. 

“A humble servant would be a good way to describe him,” said Foster.

11:40 a.m.: The prosecution rests. Judge Gallagher calls for a recess. 

11:30 a.m.: Witness asked to step down from stand. Prosecution calls Jefferson’s older brother Adarius Carr to the stand. Carr describes the last time he saw his sister.

11:22 a.m.: Cross-examination by the defense begins. Defense asked the witness about social adjustment issues and if Dean apologized to her after the incident.

11:05 a.m.: Court proceedings resume with the jury brought back into the courtroom. The woman who accused Dean of assault in November 2004 is testifying in front of the jury. 

She describes the incident for the jury, saying, “He took his finger and touched my right breast and tracing his finger over my breast.” 

She said she told Dean she was uncomfortable, he stopped and told her not to tell anyone what happened, as she starting leaving the room. 

She told the jury she gave a verbal report and written statements to campus police.

10:53 a.m.: Judge Gallagher calls for a recess. 

10:46 a.m.: The jury is being brought back into the courtroom. 

10:32 a.m.: The woman who accused Dean of assault while at UTA in November 2004 is taking the stand. She’s describing the incident during the vetting process. 

10:09 a.m.: Clayton is excused from the stand. And the judge calls for a break. 

10:05 a.m.: Defense begins cross-examination of the witness. 

Defense attorney Bob Gill said it was the opinion of three other psychologists that Dean was fit for duty. 

9:52 a.m.: Clayton’s testimony resumes. 

“He was not psychologically suitable to be a Fort Worth police officer,” Clayton told the jury.

“He had a narcissistic personality style,” that would ultimately put himself and others at risk,” Clayton explained to the jury. 

9:48 a.m.: Defense has local activist sworn-in to get him booted from the courtroom. 

9:41 a.m.: Defense objects certain portions of Clayton’s testimony ahead of the jury being brought back into the courtroom. 

9:32 a.m.: Clayton’s testimony continues after defense calls for an objection.

Clayton said Dean told him about past incidents where he had gotten reprimanded. Clayton testified Dean told him about two incidents with a pellet gun and an assault charge that happened in his 20s, where he had touched a woman without her consent. 

“He was pretty flippant in the way that he described it,” Clayton answered.  

9:29 a.m.: Defense asked to approach to bench. 

9:05 a.m.: Prosecution witness, psychologist Dr. Kyle Clayton is called to the stand to testify. 

In March 2017, Clayton said he conducted Dean’s employment psychological evaluation. 

Clayton said the problem areas during the personality evaluation were grandiosity, interpersonal difficulties, domineering and superiority.  

“I asked him to rate himself on a scale to 0 to 10… He gave himself a 9,” Clayton said.

8:55 a.m.: Judge Gallagher reopens courtroom. 

8:48 a.m.: Aaron Dean’s family arrives at the courthouse and are not being let inside the courtroom. 

8:40 a.m.: Tarrant County Judge George Gallagher calls Fort Worth City Councilman Chris Nettles into the courtroom. Nettles has been under a gag order, but spoke Thursday after the verdict. 

The pool photographer who was in the courtroom says Nettles has a show-cause hearing on Jan. 4 at noon for three counts of contempt of court for interviews he gave following Dean’s conviction and a press release.

Judge Gallagher has locked the courtroom and has cut the video feed, as court proceedings continue. 

8:22 a.m.: Prosecution witness Kyle Clayton, who did Dean’s employment psych review, is being vetted ahead of the jury being brought in.

“My conclusion was that he was not psychologically suitable to serve as a police officer,” Clayton said on the stand. 

https://www.kvue.com/article/news/special-reports/atatiana-jefferson-aaron-dean-manslaughter-sentencing-phase-updates/287-67ffa15b-9ab5-42f7-b021-26631f812a38 Jury to begin deliberating on Aaron Dean sentencing Dec. 19

Laura Coffey

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