ST. PAUL, Minn. - Just a week remains before jury selection begins in the manslaughter trial of St. Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez, and we are now learning more about some of the evidence the jury will, and will not be exposed to.
Most notably, Ramsey County District Judge William H. Leary will allow the defense to present evidence and testimony regarding the potential presence of marijuana on the day of the shooting. The defense team argued that the evidence will help show that Castile lacked the ability to follow orders, stating that they have an expert who will testify that a blood test taken after Castile’s death indicates he was “stoned” at the time of the shooting.
Prosecutors say they have their own expert who will testify that blood tests taken after someone has died are unreliable. Though judge Leary will allow the evidence, he said it should be limited to the presence of marijuana on the day of the shooting and not extend to Castile’s history of use.
“I also argued that he was using marijuana on the 5th and the 4th of July and that will depend upon the evidence at the trial,” said defense attorney Earl Gray.
Gray and the rest of the defense team filed a total of 15 pretrial motions, most of which were denied. Judge Leary will not expand the number of juror challenges (without cause) afforded to the defense and he also denied a defense request to have the jury visit Philando Castile’s car in order to see the evidence in person. His team planned to have Yanez recreate the sequence of events that ended in Castile's death.
“Actually if you saw the car you would understand why we wanted the jury to see it,” said defense attorney Earl Gray.
The judge also told the defense they would not be allowed to ask Philando Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, about whether she told the truth to police officers earlier this year when she was arrested and questioned in an unrelated crime. Reynolds currently faces assault charges, and defense attorneys for Yanez had hoped to use the incident to raise questions about her honesty and integrity.
Yanez's trial is set for May 30. The St. Anthony Police officer is charged with manslaughter in the shooting of Castile following a traffic stop. His trial is scheduled to begin May 30.