Weather Forecast


Judge rules Yanez manslaughter trial will remain in St. Paul

ST. PAUL—A judge ruled Thursday that a St. Anthony police officer's manslaughter trial will be held in Ramsey County.

Ramsey County District Judge William H. Leary III denied a motion by Jeronimo Yanez's defense attorneys seeking a change of venue for the case following a hearing Tuesday.

Yanez's attorneys could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday. Officials with the Ramsey County attorney's office declined comment on the ruling.

Yanez faces one count of second-degree manslaughter and two felony-level counts of dangerous discharge of a weapon stemming from shooting of Philando Castile during a July 6 traffic stop in Falcon Heights. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

During Tuesday's hearing Earl Gray, one of Yanez's attorneys, argued that extensive media coverage of the fatal shooting of Castile as well as remarks made by Gov. Mark Dayton and Ramsey County Attorney John Choi eliminated his client's chance of receiving a fair trial in Ramsey County.

Yanez's defense team had determined residents of Duluth, St. Cloud or Brainerd know far less about the case and would be more likely to reach a fair verdict, Gray said.

While acknowledging extensive media coverage of the case, Assistant Ramsey County Attorney Clayton Robinson Jr. countered that the defense did not meet the legal standard needed to justify moving the trial out of the county where the alleged crime occurred.

Robinson argued that the legal burden does not have to do with how much potential jurors might have read or heard about a case in the media, but whether they can set aside biases to reach a "fair and impartial" decision.

The immediate aftermath of the shooting was live-streamed on Facebook by Castile's girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds. Reynolds was in the car with Castile when he was shot following a traffic stop, as was her then-4-year-old daughter.

The incident sparked protests across the state and nation about police use-of-force against people of color. Castile, a 32-year-old St. Paul elementary school cafeteria manager, was black. Yanez, 29, is Hispanic.

Yanez's trial is scheduled for May 30.

Frederick Melo contributed to this report. The St. Paul Pioneer Press is a Forum News Service media partner.