Prosecution wants to exclude evidence about Castile’s character

Published 8:06 am Monday, May 15, 2017

By Jon Collins

MPR News/90.1 FM

Prosecutors in the case of St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez are seeking to exclude evidence about Philando Castile’s driving record, gun permit or marijuana use during Yanez’s trial, which is scheduled to start later this month.

The prosecution’s filing in Ramsey County District Court this week argues that the “only purpose in admitting any of this evidence would be to try to attack Castile’s character.”

Castile, 32, was shot and killed by St. Anthony police officer Yanez, 29, during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights on July 6. Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, who was a passenger in the car along with her 4-year-old daughter, streamed the aftermath of the shooting on Facebook Live.

Yanez is charged with second-degree manslaughter and two felony counts of reckless discharge of a firearm. When Ramsey County Attorney John Choi announced charges in November, he said that “no reasonable officer, knowing, seeing and hearing what officer Yanez did at the time, would have used deadly force.”

In addition to asking to exclude testimony about Castile’s character, prosecutors argued that any evidence about his permit to carry application, past associations with gang members, past contacts with police or photos of Castile or Reynolds should not be allowed.

Prosecutors argue that testimony about the character of a victim can only be offered if it relates “to the incident at issue and only if the defendant had some prior knowledge of those acts.” They say none of the evidence they’re asking to exclude was known by Yanez when he shot Castile.

They also asked in a separate filing that any testimony about charges pending against Reynolds also be excluded.