DETROIT (WWJ) – There will be no mistrial this time in the case of a Detroit police officer who accidentally killed a 7-year-old girl during a raid four years ago.
Defense attorney Steve Fishman called the testimony of victim Aiyana Stanley-Jones grandmother last week a “performance.” Mertilla Jones broke down sobbing on the stand, yelling at the defendant in open court: “You killed my grandbaby!”
Fishman said the outburst clearly prejudiced the jury against defendant Joseph Weekley.
“So the question to me becomes, do we allow a witness to deliberately and premeditatedly try to sabotage Officer Weekley’s right to a fair trial by putting on a performance like we saw on Wednesday?”
Wayne County Judge Cynthia Hathaway ordered each juror questioned individually: Can you come to a fair verdict despite the emotional outburst?
Each juror said yes.
Following some intense discussion Monday morning, Hathaway ruled the trial would be allowed to continue.
This is the second trial for the Detroit SWAT team officer who is charged with involuntary manslaughter, accused of handling his gun recklessly during the 2010 raid. The trial first ended in a hung jury.
Weekley insists he mistakenly pulled the trigger when Mertilla Jones grabbed his submachine gun, but the grandmother denies she touched Weekley’s weapon. Aiyana was shot in the head as she slept on a couch.
The raid was being filmed for the A&E reality show “The First 48,” and Aiyana’s family members believe the officers involved were more concerned about how they looked on TV than they were about properly conducting their police work.
Last summer, a videographer who filmed the raid for the TV show was sentenced to probation in connection with the case after she lied about trying to sell footage shot on the night Aiyana died.
The incident led to a ban by then-Detroit Mayor Dave Bing on TV crews going out with police.
Testimony on Weekley’s trial will resume on Tuesday.