DETROIT (WWJ) – Jurors have been barred from taking notes during the involuntary manslaughter trial of a Detroit police officer blamed for the death 7-year-old girl Aiyana Stanley-Jones
Wayne County Judge Cynthia Hathaway gave the instruction before opening statements Monday morning in the trial of officer Joseph Weekley. She didn’t explain why.
The Michigan Supreme Court in 2011 changed the rules and greatly encouraged judges to allow jurors to take notes. Chief Justice Robert Young Jr. says note-taking is a basic tool in determining the truth during a trial.
Jones was fatally shot as she slept on a couch in her home in the early morning hours of May 16, 2010.
That’s when members of a special police operations team burst into the house to search for a man wanted for murder. The raid was being filmed for the documentary-style A&E TV show “The First 48,” which follows homicide investigators during the first 48 hours after a homicide.
While witnesses said officers burst in shooting, police insist that Weekley’s gun accidentally discharged after he was bumped by the girl’s grandmother. Police initially took Jones’ grandmother into custody and administered tests for gunpowder and drugs. She was released hours later.
Family members believe the officers involved in the deadly raid were more concerned about how they looked when the TV show aired than they were about conducting their police work properly.
Chauncey Owens, the subject of the raid, was arrested in the home’s second-floor flat in the separate murder case — the May 14, 2010 death of 17-year-old Je’rean Blake. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and is serving a 28-year prison sentence. At the time, Owens was engaged to Jones’ aunt.
Jones’ death made national headlines, attracting attention from civil rights leaders such as the Rev. Al Sharpton, who delivered the eulogy at her funeral. After Jones’ death, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing banned TV crews from going out with police.
Jones’ family has also filed civil lawsuits against the city of Detroit, the police department, and the A&E Television Network.
Stay with WWJ Newsradio 950 and CBSDetroit.com for coverage of the trial.