Judge in Philando Castile Trial Denies Defense Motions

ST. PAUL, Minn. (CN) – Jurors hearing the manslaughter case against the Minnesota police officer who shot and killed Philando Castile during a traffic stop last summer will not be able to see Castile’s car in person, a state judge ruled two weeks before the closely watched case goes to trial.

In a pretrial hearing Tuesday, Ramsey County District Court Judge William H. Leary denied multiple requests by defense attorneys for Jeronimo Yanez, 29, the St. Anthony officer who fatally shot 32-year-old Castile, an African-American man, during a routine traffic stop in July 2016.

The aftermath of the shooting was broadcast live on social media by Castile’s girlfriend Diamond Reynolds, a passenger in the vehicle along with her 4-year-old child.

Yanez, who is Latino, was charged in November with one count of second-degree manslaughter and two counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm. His trial begins May 30.

In addition to jurors not being able to see Castile’s car, Judge Leary also ruled Tuesday that Yanez will not be allowed to re-enact what happened leading up to the shooting.

Assistant Ramsey County Attorney Richard Dusterhoft had argued against the defense team’s requests, claiming the vehicle had been well-documented and that the shooting was also documented via police video and Reynold’s Facebook Live video, according to a Star Tribune report.

Defense attorneys are also excluded from presenting video and audio of a recent police interview with Reynolds, who was charged with felony assault in an unrelated case in March. Judge Leary said the assault case has no relevance to Yanez’s trial.

But evidence about Castile’s use of marijuana could be the anchor of Yanez’s defense.

Defense attorney Paul Engh has argued that because Castile had marijuana in his system at the time of the incident, he did not have the right to carry a gun.

The defense attorneys are not allowed to bring up past marijuana use but are permitted to show evidence about marijuana allegedly used by Castile the day of the shooting, Leary ruled.

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