Attorneys representing Jeronimo Yanez in the fatal shooting of Philando Castile plan to introduce Castile’s arrest and driving records at Yanez’s trial later this month.
The defense’s witness and exhibit lists were filed late Tuesday, and could provide a further glimpse into their strategy as they plan to justify Yanez’s actions as a necessary response to Castile’s behavior that day.
Yanez, 29, a St. Anthony police officer, was charged Nov. 16 with second-degree manslaughter and two felony counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm for killing Castile, 32, during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights on July 6. Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her then-4-year-old daughter were also in the car.
Court records show that Castile had been pulled over at least 52 times since 2002 and had been cited 86 times for minor offenses such as speeding, not wearing a seat belt, or having expired license tabs. About half those violations were dismissed.
The Ramsey County attorney’s office believes Castile was complying with Yanez’s orders and was reaching for his wallet to retrieve his driver’s license when Yanez fired at him seven times.
The defense has argued that their client acted out of “an abundance of innocence” when he stopped Castile’s car on Larpenteur Avenue because of a nonworking brake light and because he matched the description of a suspect who robbed a Lauderdale gas station at gunpoint. (Authorities have said Castile was not involved in the robbery.)
Castile, the defense has argued, also reached for his own gun before Yanez fired, and should not have been driving that day because he was high on marijuana. Castile had a permit to carry a gun, and Castile had informed Yanez that he had a gun before he was shot.
Defense attorneys Paul Engh, Earl Gray and Thomas Kelly plan to introduce video from a SuperUSA gas station, police squad and dispatch audio, Reynold’s Facebook Live video that was live-streamed in the aftermath of the shooting and Reynold’s Facebook pages, among other items.
“The investigation conducted by the defense continues,” said the defense’s filing.
The Ramsey County attorney’s office also filed its exhibit list Tuesday, noting that it plans to introduce photos and video surveillance from the gas station robbery, Reynolds’ Facebook video, articles of Castile’s clothing and replicas of Castile’s clothing and gun holster, among other items.
“Generally speaking, a replica may typically be used by a litigant because the original item may be considered a biohazard or [it] will be more helpful to the jurors to have a replica rather than the original item of evidence in its current condition,” said county attorney spokesman Dennis Gerhardstein.
Yanez has pleaded not guilty to all counts, and is to go to trial May 30.
The defense has asked the Minnesota Supreme Court to consider moving the trial to Brainerd, Duluth, Hastings or St. Cloud after the District Court and Court of Appeals denied the request.