A police affidavit states DeCruz shot Dean in the head while reaching in Dean’s vehicle to grab his keys in 2019. DeCruz now faces a charge of manslaughter.
BELL COUNTY, Texas — Former Temple PD Officer Carmen DeCruz was not easy to recognize as he walked into a Bell County Court Friday afternoon. His thick gray hair came down to his shoulders, a mask covered his face. All the same, the former officer’s high-profile case in now inching closer to trial.
DeCruz is accused of shooting and killing 28-year-old Temple native Michael Dean after a traffic stop in 2019. A police affidavit states DeCruz shot Dean in the head while reaching in Dean’s vehicle to grab his keys. DeCruz now faces a charge of manslaughter.
On Friday, Bell County Judge Paul LePak set a trial date of July 25, 2022. It’s a tentative date. 6 News later spoke to DeCruz’s defense attorney, Robert McCabe, about what that trial might look look like.
On Friday, McCabe requested evidence from county prosecutors at a court hearing in the 264th Judicial District Court. As per normal pre-trial procedure, the defense requested all the evidence that the prosecution held, as well as some items of evidence that hadn’t been collected by those prosecutors, with a “discovery motion.”
This is called the “discovery” phase of the trial and discovery rules require prosecutors to disclose the evidence they have collected before the trial starts.
McCabe requested 15 different items, some of which the prosecution contested in front of LePak.
McCabe wanted the notes of all officers and employees related to the shooting and wanted all written or recorded statements from officers related to the case.
The prosecution argued that request may be too broad and should be related to notes and statements relevant to the case.
McCabe also asked for the criminal history of every officer and every witness related to the case. The prosecution, in turn, argued that it can’t produce a complete “rap sheet” for every officer.
McCabe said the most significant piece of evidence still needed is the “lab reports” from the Texas Department of Public Safety Crime lab in relation to video evidence in the case and fire arm evidence.
“To see what kind of testing they use, to see what kind of software they use, so we can have our own experts look at the kind of testing methods they use,” McCabe said.
McCabe said they already got a large amount of discovery information early on in the case and probably have 90 percent of what they need but he feels some items are still missing.
Cases normally have a jury panel, or jury selection pool, of 60 individuals, but McCabe said they would most likely ask for a larger pool of 100 people to select from before the case goes to trial. He said they may also ask for additional courthouse security because of the profile of the case.
Bell County District Attorney Henry Garza already told 6 News back in May, that he is ready to try the DeCruz case now.
“As far as we are concerned we are ready. Give us the day, give us the time, and we are ready to move on it,” Garza told 6 News on May 25.
LePak asked both McCabe and the county prosecutors what time of year they wanted to go to trial on Friday. After LePak asked both parties three times, and neither could commit to a month, LePak proposed July 25, 2022.
McCabe later told 6 News he does see a possibility to being ready on that day as long as he gets the needed information.
“We’d love to go to trial that date. If we have our evidence, and we’ve had our experts review it, and we’re ready to go forward, then we will try this case in July,” McCabe said.