Jeronimo Yanez

Posted in Uncategorized by chamblee54 on June 17, 2017

As you may have heard, a jury acquitted Jeronimo Yanez of charges related to the death of Philando Castile. Diamond Reynolds, the girlfriend of Mr. Castile, made a dramatic facebook video immediately after the shooting. There has been outrage on social media regarding the verdict.

PG is not a lawyer, nor did he sit on the jury of this trial. Justice is not a popularity contest, determined by who is shouting the loudest outside the courtroom. PG wanted to learn a bit about the trial, and why the jury came to the decision it did. This post is about that trial.

No opinion will be given as to the guilt, or innocence, of Jeronimo Yanez. The decision of the jury should be respected. They heard the evidence and arguments. The jury deliberated for 29 hours. At one point, the jury appeared to be deadlocked, with 10 jurors wanting acquittal, and 2 wanting to convict. Sources report that the holdout jurors were white. The final jury was 10 white jurors, and 2 black jurors.

Minnesota Public Radio has a series of podcasts, 74 Seconds: The death of Philando Castile and the trial of Jeronimo Yanez. These shows provide more information than facebook posts. Here are a few key episodes: Trial, Day 5: The dashcam and Diamond Reynolds, An update on the trial of Jeronimo Yanez, Trial, Day 6: Yanez’s partner testifies, Trial, Day 8: The prosecution rests, the defense begins, Trial, Day 9: Jeronimo Yanez takes the stand.

Officer Yanez says that he saw a gun in Mr. Castile’s hand. The people who handled the body disagree on how far down in Mr. Castile’s pocket the weapon was. Miss Reynolds says, at various times, that Mr. Castile was reaching for his driver’s license, and unbuckling the seat belt. Neither the facebook video, or the squad car dashboard video, gives any information on these points.

The dashboard video was shown in the opening statement by the prosecution. This video was shown again several times during the trial. The prosecution felt this helped their case, or they would not have shown it. In PG’s IANAL opinion, showing this video repeatedly may have been a strategic mistake.

The defendant does not have to testify. In many cases, the defendant does not. Officer Yanez testified in this case. He told his story… he saw Mr. Castile with a gun in his hand, and made the split second decision to fire. Officer Yanez was the man who had to make a decision, fast.

Officer Yanez gave an interview to investigators from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) after the shooting. “Prosecutors told jurors at trial that Yanez used “it” several times instead of “gun” or “firearm” in the interview recorded the day after the shooting, proof that he never saw Castile’s gun. But prosecutors didn’t play the audio recording during their three-day case, which is the common practice. They tried unsuccessfully to play it during the defense’s case in an attempt to catch Yanez contradicting himself. Leary (Ramsey County District Judge William H. Leary III) denied the move.”

This post is not a comprehensive review of all the issues in this trial. Many of the issues… marijuana use, gun permits, racial identities … are explored in great detail in other locations. The podcast linked to above goes into great detail, and makes an effort to be fair to all parties. Angry opinions, and incendiary rhetoric, are widely available. Pictures today are from The Library of Congress.


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