Judge denies request to move Yanez trial

Judge refuses to move police officer's trial in Castile case

ST. PAUL, Minn. - A Ramsey County judge has denied a request to move the trial of a St. Anthony police officer charged in the shooting death of Philando Castile.

Officer Jeronimo Yanez is facing second-degree manslaughter and two felony firearms charges in Castile's death during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights.

During a court hearing Tuesday, defense attorneys for Yanez argued extensive and allegedly biased pre-trial media coverage makes it impossible for their client to get a fair trial in Ramsey County. The team presented newspaper headlines they criticized as biased and referenced a press conference held by Gov. Mark Dayton after the shooting.

RELATED: Change of venue decision in Castile case expected by Friday

Judge William Leary also denied a motion to dismiss the case and denied the defendant’s motion to suppress his statement given to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. 

Yanez concedes he fatally shot Castile the night of  July 6, 2016 after a traffic stop. The officer contends Castile was reaching for his weapon and he felt his life was in danger.

Former U.S. Attorney Tom Heffelfinger was not surprised to see the request denied. 

"I’ve been in this business a long time and I have to be blunt, I can’t remember the last case that got moved," he said. 
 
Heffelfinger believes jury selection could last a week. 
 
"I would expect aggressive questioning, especially from the defense on whether their minds have been made up by what they read or saw," he said.
 
In his ruling, Judge Leary wrote the publicity wasn't necessarily the issue.
 
"Rather, the fundamental issue is whether jurors from the community where the alleged crime occurred can honestly and in good conscience set aside pretrial publicity and their own impressions or opinions regarding the case," he said. 
 
The trial is scheduled for May 30. 
 

© 2017 KARE-TV


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