ST. PAUL, Minn. — 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, 29, 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.
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.
Minnesota Public Radio News reported (http://bit.ly/2pT11Ld ) 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 alleged marijuana use. Attorneys argued Castile wouldn’t have been issued a permit to carry a gun had he been honest about using marijuana.
While the defense will not be allowed to bring up prior marijuana use, attorneys can present evidence about Castile’s alleged marijuana use the day of the shooting. They’ve said that contributed to negligence in his death. Earl Gray, one of Yanez’s attorneys, said Castile was “stoned” the day he was killed, and that a defense expert will testify the presence of THC in his system shows he was intoxicated.
Jeffrey Paulsen, a federal prosecutor working with the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office on this case, said the prosecution’s expert will disagree with that assessment.
The judge also granted a request that will allow Yanez’s attorneys to present testimony about his reputation in the community and his character.
Gray said after the hearing that despite the denial of some requests, the defense is ready.
“We got rulings that will help us defend the case,” Gray said, according to the Star Tribune. “I’m not going to comment on the judge’s rulings. We have enough there to easily win this case.”
Attorneys also learned Tuesday that Yanez’s trial will stay in St. Paul. The Minnesota Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to hear a defense petition that requested a change of venue due to pretrial publicity. Previous defense requests to have the case moved outside Ramsey County were also denied.
Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org