Jury deliberates ex-Texas officer’s sentence in killing

Aaron Dean stands with his defense team as the jury leaves the 396th District Court to start...
Aaron Dean stands with his defense team as the jury leaves the 396th District Court to start its deliberations on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022, in Fort Worth, Texas.(Amanda McCoy/Star-Telegram via AP, Pool)
Published: Dec. 19, 2022 at 3:01 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 19, 2022 at 5:54 PM CST
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FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — A jury deciding the sentence for a former Texas police officer who was convicted of manslaughter last week for fatally shooting Atatiana Jefferson through a rear window in her home in 2019 deliberated for over seven hours Monday.

Aaron Dean, 38, faces up to 20 years in prison, which is what prosecutors requested during closing arguments in the sentencing phase. But jurors also have the option of sentencing him to probation, which is what the defense asked jurors to give him.

The same jury that convicted him of manslaughter Thursday is also determining his sentence. Jurors started deliberating Dean’s sentencing at about 10 a.m. Monday and left the courthouse around 5:30 p.m. They will be sequestered and begin deliberating again Tuesday.

The white Fort Worth officer shot the 28-year-old Black woman while responding to a call about an open front door. His guilty verdict was a rare conviction of an officer for killing someone who was also armed with a gun.

During the trial, the primary dispute was whether Dean knew Jefferson was armed. Dean testified that he saw her weapon; prosecutors claimed the evidence showed otherwise.

Dean shot Jefferson on Oct. 12, 2019, after a neighbor called a nonemergency police line to report that the front door to Jefferson’s home was open. She had been playing video games that night with her 8-year-old nephew and it emerged at trial that they left the doors open to vent smoke from hamburgers the boy burnt.