Judge told to recuse himself in former Fort Worth officer’s murder trial

Aaron Dean (Yffy Yossifor/Star-Telegram via AP)

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — A new judge must be assigned to oversee the murder trial of a former Fort Worth police officer after defense attorneys successfully argued that the initial judge must recuse himself.

Retired Second Court of Appeals Justice Lee Gabriel issued the decision Tuesday after hearing arguments last week. Attorneys for former officer Aaron Dean argued that Judge David Hagerman’s pre-trial decisions raised questions about his objectivity.

Dean is accused of shooting Atatiana Jefferson, a 28-year-old Black woman, through a window of her home while responding to a call reporting the front door was open. The 2019 killing heightened mistrust between the city’s Black community and the police department.

Dean’s attorneys argued that Hagerman improperly rushed them to move toward trial, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

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Gabriel did not specify a reason for ordering Hagerman’s recusal in a written order, according to the Dallas Morning News. Hagerman did not immediately reply to the newspaper’s request for comment on Tuesday.

Dean’s trial has been delayed several times. It was scheduled to begin this month before Dean’s attorneys sought the judge’s recusal.

Dean resigned from the police department after he was charged with Jefferson’s murder.

Bodycam video showed Dean approaching the door of the home where Jefferson was watching her nephew. He walked around the side of the house, pushed through a gate into the fenced-off backyard and fired through the glass window after shouting for Jefferson to show her hands, according to the video.