Testimony Prep Matters

This week in Fort Worth, in Tarrant County, Texas, a former police officer Aaron Dean was on trial for the murder of Atatiana Jefferson. Undisputed testimony established that a neighbor called in to the non emergency line to ask for a check on the house to be done due to a door being open at 2:30am. He and video established that both vehicles of the occupants were present on the property.

What is disputed is almost everything thereafter. Proper police policy, was this a burglary or a welfare check, should the officers have gone into the backyard, should they have announced themselves. But most importantly for the defense was “Did Aaron Dean see the gun pointed at him?” For this crucial question, Aaron Dean took the stand in his own defense. To say it went poorly is an understatement. Aaron Dean contradicted established evidence, himself, his partner, and his attorneys. Aaron Dean also supported evidence, himself, his partner, and his attorneys. His testimony was all over the place. His answers were at times rude and arrogant to the state. He inspired memes reminiscent of other “tried to cry” moments in high profile trials.

And this was all likely WITH preparation from his defense team. His defense team was less than impressive in so many different aspects of the trial. But the failure to properly prep their witness is inexcusable. When a basic statement is so contradicted by the evidence that it allows the opposing counsel to spring a trap, don’t prep them to testify to that. They clearly prepared him to agree with and follow their strategy for the theory of the case, but they ignored when that strategy was fully contradicted by the evidence. Essentially hanging their client out to dry for the hook for the contradiction.

These are mistakes that can cost a person their freedom.