Jury of 4 men, 10 women to hear retrial of Detroit police officer’s shooting of girl, 7
Detroit – — Opening statements are scheduled to begin Thursday in the second trial of a Detroit police officer accused in the killing of a 7-year-old girl during a police raid being filmed for TV.
A jury of four men and 10 women was seated Wednesday, the third day of jury selection. Among them: an engineer, a retired steel worker, a hairdresser and an officer manager.
Joseph Weekley’s June 2013 trial on involuntary manslaughter and reckless or careless discharge of a weapon charges ended in a hung jury.
On May 14, 2010, Weekley led a Special Response Team unit into a home on the city’s east side searching for Chauncey Owens and Aiyana Stanley-Jones’ father, Charles. Both were being sought in the killing of 17-year-old Je’Rean Blake, reportedly because they didn’t like the way he looked at them as he walked into a party store. Owens and Jones have since been convicted of the crime.
Weekley and Aiyana’s grandmother, Mertilla Jones, are the only survivors who were in the living room when Aiyana was killed. Weekley claims Jones slapped his gun downward, causing it to fire and kill Aiyana, who was sleeping on the couch. Jones contended during the first trial that Weekley entered the house intending to kill someone.
“As soon as he came in, he just put the gun to her head and shot,” Jones testified under cross-examination by Weekley’s attorney, Steven Fishman.
Jones told a different story to a Detroit police homicide investigator hours after the incident, saying the fatal shot came through the front window. She repeated that version during a televised press conference days later, which Assistant Prosecutor Robert Moran acknowledged during his closing arguments in the first trial, asking jurors not to discount her entire testimony, even if “she said different things” about what happened the night of the raid.
Moran on Wednesday stressed to jury prospects he’s not alleging Weekley meant to kill Aiyana. “I’m not going to tell you Officer Weekley intentionally killed a little girl,” he said. “That’s not what the evidence will show.”
During the first trial, Moran questioned Weekley’s contention Jones had touched his gun, pointing out her fingerprints were not found on his submachine gun, and that when she was tested for powder burns immediately after the shooting, none was found.
Statements made during the first trial will likely be allowed during the second proceeding, Cooley School of Law professor Curt Benson said.
“If someone testifies under oath, that’s not hearsay and they can use that,” Benson said. He added it’s unlikely the fact the first case ended in a hung jury will be discussed.
“I would imagine the prosecutor would fight tooth-and-nail to keep that out, and that the judge would agree,” he said. “The defense really would have no good reason to bring that up, other than to say, ‘the first jury couldn’t reach a verdict; you shouldn’t, either.’ And the judge wouldn’t be likely to allow that.”
A crew from the cable reality television show “First 48” accompanied Weekley’s crew on the raid, which was criticized and led some to believe police used a “flash bang” grenade for the benefit of the cameras. While questioning jury prospects Wednesday, Fishman asked whether they would hold the presence of the TV crew against Weekley.
“Some genius ... gave permission for a film crew to follow the police,” Fishman said. “But (Weekley) is an officer, not a sergeant, or a lieutenant, and certainly not the police chief. Whatever you think about the notion of having a film crew, are you going to blame that on him?”