A jury sentenced a former Fort Worth Texas police officer to almost 12 years in prison for the killing of Atatiana Jefferson in her home, reports the Dallas Morning News. The jury deliberated for about 13 hours before it handed down the sentence. 

Aaron Dean, who stood emotionless as his sentence was read, was facing up to 20 years in prison for killing Jefferson.

Prosecutors requested that the jurors sentence Dean to a maximum of 20 years in prison, saying anything less was a “travesty of justice.” Dean’s legal team asked for a suspended sentence and community supervision, noting that “he was acting in his role as a police officer and was not in need of rehabilitation.”

After the sentencing, Jefferson's family members read impact statements to the court.

“My sister did not do anything wrong,” said Ashley Carr, Jefferson’s sister. “She was in her home, which should have been the safest place for her to be and yet turned out to be the most dangerous. She was murdered and, as her big sister, I live every day with the pain that I could not do my job and protect her.”

As her statement continued, Carr said she pitied Dean.

“Not because of the punishment you have received for your crime,” she told Dean in court. “You and I both know that is insufficient. I pity your ignorance… You do not know enough to be ashamed. You’re not self-aware enough to understand your responsibility for this evil act.”

Carr also noted the significance of the sentencing, pointing out her son Zion's age who testified during the trial.

"11 years is the same age as Zion. 10 months and 12 days, that's the day that it happened. There's a message in this," she continued. "It may not be the message that we wanted and the whole dream, but that is some of it."

Lee Merritt, the family's attorney, said the sentencing was "a relief."

"It wasn't exactly the justice we all thought Atatiana deserved, but it does represent a historic moment in Fort Worth and Tarrant County," Merritt said.

On Oct. 12, 2019, Jefferson was killed when Dean responded to an "open structure call" in the 1200 block of E. Allen Avenue at around 2:30 a.m. The authorities were called by a neighbor because Jefferson's front door was open.

At the time, Jefferson was playing video games with her nephew Zion and opened the doors of her home because they had accidentally burnt the hamburgers that they were making for dinner. After hearing suspicious noises outside of her home, Jefferson checked out the situation and bought along her gun for protection .

Dean, who testified on his own behalf earlier in the trial, said that while responding to the call, he saw a figure in a window of Jefferson’s home.

“I thought we had a burglar, and so I stepped back, straightened up and drew my weapon, and then pointed it towards the figure,” he said. 

He added that he was unable to see the person’s hands and began to shout for Jefferson to put up her hands before seeing a gun.

“I’m just looking right down the barrel of the gun, and when I saw the barrel of that gun pointed at me, I fired a single shot from my duty weapon,” he explained.

Dean also admitted that he did not announce himself as a police officer when he arrived at Jefferson’s home because he believed there was an active burglary at the scene and that it was “general practice” not to announce in such situations.

Jefferson's death led to widespread criticism of police procedures and racial justice in law enforcement.

Dean, who resigned from the police department before his arrest, was indicted in December 2019 on a murder charge. Before his resignation, he was reportedly about to be fired for allegedly violating multiple department policies according to Fort Worth Chief of Police Ed Kraus.

Jefferson, a graduate of Xavier University in Louisiana, with a degree in chemistry, returned home after college to help her family with health issues. She was planning to attend medical school.