ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Dressed in a light gray suit, Jeronimo Yanez walked to court Tuesday with his defense team, offering no comment about the start of the trial.
In Judge William Leary’s Ramsey County courtroom, defense and state attorneys argued over what testimony jurors can hear.
Yanez is charged with manslaughter in the 2016 shooting death of Philando Castile, the immediate aftermath of which was live-streamed on Facebook, prompting protests around the world.
While prosecutors call the shooting unjustifiable, the officer’s attorneys call it self-defense.
The first defense motion sought to strike any references about Castile’s license to carry. Defense attorney Earl Gray says the license is irrelevant, so jurors shouldn’t hear any mention of it by Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds.
Defense lawyers also wanted the state to further question Reynolds as to how much and where the couple bought marijuana on July 6, the night of the shooting. The questions could reveal how much might have been smoked.
The judge denied the request but said the matter will be addressed during her testimony.
Also on Tuesday, both teams started the process of whittling down a pool of 50 potential jurors to 14 who will hear the case, including two alternates.
Of the jurors in the initial pool, there are just a few African-American, Asian and Hispanics to select from.
“It wasn’t as diverse as I thought it would be,” Castile family friend John Thompson said.
“There wasn’t that many African-Americans on the jury pool, which is common in the courts,” he added. “I don’t know why, because there is a lot of African-American people who live here, but we don’t get many on a jury pool, ever.”
Potential jurors spent the rest of Tuesday day filling out a 14-page questionnaire. The questions are intended to weed out biases and impanel only the impartial. That process begins early Wednesday morning.
WEB EXTRA: Read the full juror questionnaire here (.PDF)