Defense requests denied for police officer

Published 10:34 pm Tuesday, May 16, 2017

ST. PAUL — A judge ruled Tuesday that jurors in the case of a Minnesota police officer who killed a black man last July will not be allowed to view the man’s car in person as part of the trial, which means the officer won’t be able to re-enact his version of the events leading up to the shooting.

St. Anthony police Officer Jeronimo Yanez is scheduled to stand trial May 30 on manslaughter and other charges in connection with the fatal shooting of Philando Castile during a traffic stop in the St. Paul suburb of Falcon Heights. The aftermath of the shooting was broadcast live on Facebook by Castile’s girlfriend, who was sitting in the car along with her young daughter.

Prosecutors said the 32-year-old elementary school cafeteria worker was shot by Yanez, who is Latino, after he told the officer he was armed. Authorities later found Castile had a permit to carry.

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During Tuesday’s pretrial hearing, Ramsey County Judge William Leary III denied several requests by the defense. In addition to denying a request to allow jurors to view Castile’s car, Leary also ruled the defense can’t bring up anything about Castile’s character during opening statements.

According to a press release, the defense can raise issues about Castile’s character and that of his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, during the trial — as long as the court gives prior approval.

The defense also asked to present evidence about Castile’s permit to carry application, driving record and information about his marijuana use. Attorneys argued Castile wouldn’t have been issued a permit to carry a gun had he been honest about using marijuana. Leary said the defense cannot bring up Castile’s marijuana use beyond the day of the shooting.

Prosecutors have resisted the introduction of any evidence that could attack Castile’s character.

Yanez’s attorneys have also asked the Minnesota Supreme Court to move the trial out of Ramsey County, arguing the officer can’t get a fair trial in the area because of pretrial publicity. A ruling on that is pending.