Philando Castile shooting: Judge sets boundaries for opening statements at Officer Yanez trial

- A Ramsey County judge has denied several significant requests from the defense attorneys representing St. Anthony, Minnesota Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez, who will go on trial May 30 for manslaughter in the shooting death of Philando Castile.

Judge William Leary III ruled the jury will not be allowed to view Castile’s car in person. The defense wanted Officer Yanez to re-enact his version of the events leading up to the shooting, using the car in the demonstration.

The judge also ruled the defense cannot bring up Castile's character during opening statements. Attorneys can still raise issues about Castile's character and his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, during the course of the trial.

Defense attorneys wanted to present evidence about Castile's permit to carry application, his previous traffic stops and his marijuana use. The judge rule the defense cannot bring up Castile's marijuana use beyond the day of the shooting.

Prosecutors say Castile’s past should not be a factor in the trial and the focus should be about whether Officer Yanez used reasonable force when he shot and killed Castile last summer.

Yanez shot Castile, 32, at a traffic stop on July 6 in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. During the stop, Castile told the officer he was armed. The aftermath of the fatal shooting was broadcast on Facebook Live by his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, who was a passenger in Castile’s vehicle. In the video stream, Reynolds says they were pulled over for a broken tail light.

Ramsey County Attorney John Choi reviewed the case and concluded the use of deadly force during the July traffic stop was not justified.

The defense has filed a petition with the Minnesota Supreme Court to move the trial out of Ramsey County. Last month, a Ramsey County judge denied the defense's motion to move the trial.

Yanez's attorneys argue "prejudicial comments made by in-the-know public officials" -- such as Governor Mark Dayton and Rep. Keith Ellison -- about the shooting have impacted the public opinion of the prospective jury pool in the metro area.

THE SHOOTING: Facebook video shows aftermath of police shooting in Falcon Heights, Minnesota


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