New judge assigned to Yanez case

Officer Jeronimo Yanez
Booking photo for St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez
Ramsey County Sheriff's Office

A new judge has been assigned to the case of the St. Anthony police officer charged in the fatal shooting of Philando Castile last summer.

Judge William Leary III will preside over the trial of officer Jeronimo Yanez, who faces a second-degree manslaughter charge for shooting and killing Castile during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights on July 6. Yanez is also charged with two felonies for dangerous discharge of a firearm during the incident.

Yanez hasn't yet entered a plea in the case. But defense attorney Earl Gray said his team doesn't have a problem with Leary serving as judge.

"It's a good thing that a judge has finally been appointed so now we can get on with defending the case," Gray said.

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Judge Edward Wilson had been previously appointed to the case, but defense attorneys asked that he be removed last month. Under state law, both the prosecution and the defense can ask once that a judge be removed from a case without cause.

The order assigning Leary to the case was filed by Ramsey County Chief Judge John Guthmann on Tuesday.

"He's been selected because we specially assign alleged murder cases, because of the time-consuming nature of the cases, to make sure that we can process all cases fairly and promptly," Guthmann said. "He's experienced at handling this type of case and he was available."

Leary was appointed by Gov. Jesse Ventura in 2002. He was re-elected to his seat for the third time in an uncontested race last year.

He's served on civil and criminal courts in Ramsey County, and was chair of the Office of Conciliation at the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, which was started in 1973 to mediate conflicts between parties in the archdiocese.