Published: Sun, June 11, 2017
U.S. | By Vera Richards

Minnesota officer charged in Castile shooting goes on trial

Minnesota officer charged in Castile shooting goes on trial

Yanez has been charged with manslaughter. The jury pool, having been given their questionnaires Tuesday morning, were requested to come back at 8:45 a.m. Wednesday for the continuing selection process. Sheriff's deputies had to turn away a handful of reporters.

Yanez's family members were present.

At meetings with city leaders over the past year, many residents said Castile's death came amid a long history of racial profiling of drivers passing through this town.

The difference in the amount purchased and the six grams recovered from Castile's auto could reveal whether or not marijuana was consumed before Castile was shot, defense attorney Earl Gray said. They also say Yanez warned Castile three times not to remove the gun, and Castile said repeatedly that he was not going for his weapon.

Each moment of the July 6 exchange was captured on audio from Yanez's squad vehicle and on video.

Castile informed Yanez during the stop that he was legally carrying a handgun in his pocket when the officer asked him for identification.

Defense attorney Earl Gray argued that all mentions of Castile's permit to carry made by Reynolds in video footage of the incident be removed. Otherwise, he said, bringing up the permit would be "opening the door" for defense attorneys to argue that Castile lied about alleged past marijuana use when he applied for the permit.

Leary denied the motion but said the defense would be permitted to question Reynolds about the details of the drug transaction. The defense and prosecution also get a certain number of jury "strikes" that can be exercised without explanation.

In a May 5 interview with prosecutors, Reynolds said that she purchased marijuana and that Castile did not smoke any of it before the shooting.

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Gray said having the "right to investigate" and adding this statement to the record is relevant because it will allow the defense to find out how much marijuana was consumed prior to the shooting. Prosecutors will argue that Castile was being compliant when Yanez opened fire and that Yanez acted unreasonably and with negligence.

Yanez, 29, entered the courtroom after a brief recess following discussion of the motions.

"OK", Yanez said as he placed his right hand on the holster of his own gun.

Yanez's trial began Tuesday with the start of jury selection. The judge also reiterated two rules of law for jury selection - that a complaint is not evidence and Yanez is innocent until the state proves his guilt.

The evidence in Yanez's case is different, but a common theme in the prosecution of officers nationwide is that jurors are reluctant to punish officers for doing a unsafe job, said local law professor Joseph Daly, who has arbitrated police firings and discipline cases across the country. She faced some of the same concerns Yanez's attorneys have expressed about the ability to find impartial jurors as they attempted to move the trial out of the metro.

Dayton's comments angered those who say Yanez deserves a trial before judgment is passed.

JOHN THOMPSON: You know, for me, I look at the jury and said it's not diverse enough, you know, but can they be fair?

"At the end of the day, he murdered a cafeteria worker", Thompson said of Yanez.

Jury selection is expected to last multiple days.

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