Philando Castile Trial Will Stay in St. Paul

ST. PAUL, Minn. (CN) – A Minnesota judge on Thursday denied a police officer’s request to move his manslaughter trial over the fatal shooting of Philando Castile to another county, rejecting his claim that local media coverage has turned prospective jurors against him.

Jeronimo Yanez fatally shot Castile during a routine traffic stop in July 2016, and the aftermath of the incident was broadcast live on social media by Diamond Reynolds, a passenger in the vehicle with her 4-year-old child.

Yanez was charged in November with one count of second-degree manslaughter and two counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm. Ramsey County District Court Judge William Leary III denied Yanez’s motion to dismiss in February, and he has since pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Attorneys representing Yanez asked Judge Leary to move the case out of Ramsey County last month, arguing “slanted” media coverage has flooded local newspapers and news stations since the shooting.

His attorneys suggested other venues outside of the Twin Cities, including Duluth, St. Cloud and Brainerd.

On Thursday, Leary denied the motion to change venue. He found that even if it were true that ongoing media coverage of the case impacted some areas of the state more than other areas, Yanez concedes that no area of the state has been “shielded” from such publicity.

Leary also ruled that Yanez failed to show that there is a “reasonable likelihood” a trial in Ramsey County would be unfair.

“Defendant has not produced any evidence predictive of public misconduct that might occur during the trial,” he wrote in a 10-page order.

The judge also denied Yanez’s motions to dismiss the manslaughter charge, sever offenses and exclude certain expert opinions.

“The manslaughter statute prohibits, and criminalizes, conduct resulting in an unreasonable risk of death or great bodily harm. The deadly-force statute limits a peace officer’s justification for use of deadly force ‘only when necessary,’” Leary wrote. “A peace officer who creates a situation that violates the manslaughter statute cannot otherwise justify the death that results as a ‘necessary’ use of force.”

Yanez’s trial is scheduled for May 30.

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