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FORT WORTH, Texas — The judge who will preside over the murder trial of former Fort Worth police Officer Aaron Dean has said that his scheduling in the case is guided by Texas criminal procedure code that assigns priority to cases in order of indictment.

Cases in which the defendants are jailed also are moved to the front of the legal line.

The code would appear to put the trial for Dean, who was released on a bond, behind 26 other cases headed toward trial in Tarrant County’s 297th District Court.

At a hearing on Tuesday morning, Judge David Hagerman said that beyond the code, there were other considerations.

“We’re supposed to be trying the oldest cases first, which is what we’re going to do,” he said. “However, the court’s not unmindful of priorities that need to be set on this case,” he said.

Defense attorney Bob Gill, who had earlier in the hearing said that the defense was not prepared for trial, attempted to get Hagerman to describe the priorities.

“Needs to be tried because it’s been pending for a while, Mr. Gill,” the judge said without elaborating.

Hagerman scheduled the trial for January. (A prosecutor said on Tuesday that the state was ready for trial.)

Dean was indicted on a murder charge after fatally shooting Atatiana Jefferson, a 28-year-old Black woman, through a window while responding to a call about doors being open at her home in October 2019. Jefferson was playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew when she thought she heard a prowler in the back yard, grabbed a handgun from her purse, and pointed it toward the window, the nephew told a forensic interviewer, according to an arrest warrant affidavit supporting Dean’s arrest. Dean, who is white, did not identify himself as a police officer and shot Jefferson within seconds, according to body-camera video.

Jury selection is scheduled to begin on Jan. 4, with the trial opening on Jan. 10, Hagerman said Tuesday.

The judge indicated he expects a change of venue motion, which would seek a transfer of the trial outside Tarrant County, to be filed. That and other motions in the case will be heard the week of Dec. 6. The deadline for attorneys to file motions in the case is Nov. 30.

Pressure has been mounting in the community for a trial date to be set more than two years after Jefferson’s death.

This week and last, four witnesses in the case were sworn in and instructed not to discuss the case with others. On Tuesday, Fort Worth City Councilman Chris Nettles and Sally Matzen, his district director, were sworn in, as was Lee Newquist.

Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker was sworn in in the case last week, according to a court record.

As he waited for an elevator, Dean declined to comment to reporters.

This content was originally published here.

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