ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - The defense attorneys representing St. Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez have filed a motion for a change of venue, as they don’t believe the officer who shot and killed Philando Castile can get a fair trial in Ramsey County.
The lawyers suggest moving the trial to Duluth, Hastings, St. Cloud or Brainerd.
The defense team is keeping count of all local news stories about the case, citing the heavy media coverage as a reason to move to the trial. The court documents lists 100 search results for Fox 9 stories on the Castile case, 100 results for KSTP, 80 stories for WCCO and 63 stories for KARE 11. The lawyers wrote that all of the publicity of the case "created a reasonable likelihood that a fair trial cannot be had.”
A motion to suppress was also filed, as the defense doesn’t want Officer Yanez’s statement to BCA investigators the day after shooting to be used at trial.
The defense also filed a new motion to dismiss the case, citing the manslaughter statute as too "vague." The judge has already rejected one motion to dismiss from the Yanez defense team.
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.
According to the criminal complaint: “Yanez communicated his intent to pull over Castile’s vehicle by radio to St. Anthony Police Officer Joseph Kauser who was on patrol nearby. Yanez told Kauser that he had reason to pull the vehicle over and that the occupants ‘just look like the people that were involved in a robbery.’ Yanez further stated that ‘the driver looks more like one of our suspects just because of the wide set nose.’ Yanez noted that he also had reason to stop the vehicle because it had a non-working brake light. Yanez followed Castile’s vehicle, waiting until Kauser arrived as backup.”
The attorneys representing Yanez argue that the officer feared for his life and had no choice but to shoot Castile. They also say Castile disobeyed orders and was "stoned."