FORT WORTH, Texas — One of the defense attorneys for former Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean, who is facing charges in the shooting death of Atatiana Jefferson, has died.
Jim Lane, who represented Aaron Dean, died Sunday morning, just a day before Dean's trial was set to begin with jury selection.
According to sources, Lane fell and injured himself the week before Thanksgiving. Lane was in the hospital and was moved into hospice care shortly before he died on Sunday.
Dean faces a murder charge in the 2019 death of Jefferson. Dean, who was a Fort Worth police officer at the time, had responded to her home on an "open structure" call when he shot and killed her through a window. A neighbor had called the non-emergency line to request a welfare check on Jefferson's home prior to the shooting after seeing a door open.
The trial had been postponed and delayed several times over the past three years, including once over Lane's health.
In the spring of 2022, a continuance was granted in Dean's case while Lane dealt with serious health issues. Jury selection was slated to begin on Monday morning.
Court officials Monday said jury selection would happen after 1 p.m. Monday, a slight delay, though it was unclear if Lane's death would have a further scheduling impact on the trial.
Defense attorney and former prosecutor Valerie Baston expects Dean’s defense will likely get a brief delay in the case. The judge is still weighing a motion to move the trial.
“I do believe the judge will give defense a continuance to regroup, do some reassignments and to see if they want to bring on another attorney to assist," Baston said.
Back in May, attorneys Bob Gill and Miles Brisette, who’d take over as the lead attorneys in the case for Lane asked for a delayed because of his health issues.
Judge David Hagerman, who has since been removed as judge in the case, agreed to a delay but said the defense needed to replace Lane or be prepared to move on without him.
Fort Worth Police Officer's Association President Manny Ramirez tweeted about Lane's death, stating that his impact will be "felt for generations."
Lane had practiced law for decades in Texas and had served as a captain in the U.S. Army's Judge Advocate General Corp, according to his website.
Lane, whose office was in Tarrant County, practiced in criminal defense, military court martial defense, personal injury representation and aviation pilot FAA enforcement actions.
According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Lane was born in Uvalde, but spent much of his childhood visiting family in Tarrant County. Lane earned a bachelor's degree at Texas Christian University and earned a law degree from Baylor University.
Lane is survived by his wife, son and brother.
“Jim was a public servant. Jim cared deeply about Fort Worth, about western heritage. He imparted that on every single person who he came in contact with," Ramirez said. “He was a relentless defender of police officers. He truly believed that police officers were out heroes.”
Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker called Lane a "trailblazer" who had a "fierce love for Fort Worth.
Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley also released a statement on Lane's passing, stating his "legacy lives on."
"I was sad to hear of Jim Lane’s passing this morning. He was a public servant who left Fort Worth and Tarrant County better than he found it. He will be missed but his legacy lives on," tweeted Whitely.
"Jim Lane was a servant leader of Fort Worth and a friend to many. He served our country in the U.S. Army, our city as an accomplished attorney and former city councilman for District 2. Originator of the FW Herd and advocate for the historic Stockyards, Jim leaves us a legacy of service and support. Heartfelt condolences to his wife, Janet and son, Jake," said Fort Worth City Council Member Carlos Flores in a statement.