Former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger appeals conviction in wrong apartment murder of Botham Jean
The former Dallas police officer found guilty of murder in the fatal 2018 shooting of Botham Jean is expected to ask a Texas appeals court on Tuesday to throw out her conviction.
Attorneys for Amber Guyger, who is serving a 10-year prison sentence, will argue before the Court of Appeals in the Fifth District of Texas in Dallas that Guyger should be acquitted of murder and be resentenced on the lesser charge of criminally negligent homicide.
In an appeal filed with the court last August, Guyger’s attorneys argued she acted in self-defense, believing that deadly force was necessary because she thought, although mistakenly, that she was in her apartment and that Jean, 26, was an “intruder.”
“The evidence was legally insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Guyger committed murder,” her attorneys argued in a court document.
During Guyger’s trial, her attorneys used a similar self-defense argument, which was rejected by the Dallas County jury that convicted her of murder after deliberating for less than two days.
Prosecutors filed a response asking the three-judge appellate court to deny Guyger’s request.
“Appellant walked into an apartment that wasn’t hers, shot a man who wasn’t a threat, got defensive instructions she wasn’t entitled to, and received a verdict she didn’t want. Now she asks this Court to acquit her or find her guilty of a lesser offense,” Dallas County prosecutors argued in court documents.
“Because intentionally killing a man in his own apartment is murder, the State of Texas submits that Appellant’s conviction is just fine, and this Court should affirm it,” the prosecutors argued.
Jean, who was an accountant for the international auditing firm Pricewaterhousecoopers in Dallas, was in his apartment alone eating ice cream on the night of Sept. 6, 2018, when Guyger, who had just gotten off duty and was still in her police uniform, barged through his unlocked front door and opened fire on him.
Moments after the shooting, she realized she had mistaken the apartment for her own, which was one floor below.
She testified that when she entered the apartment she saw the silhouette of a figure, so she pulled her “gun out and I yelled at him.”
“I was scared to death,” Guyger testified during her trial in 2019, adding that her “heart rate just skyrocketed.”
Guyger broke down in tears on the witness stand, saying, “I’m so sorry. I never wanted to take an innocent person’s life.”
“I wish he was the one with the gun that killed me,” she said, overcome with emotion.
In a remarkable act of kindness, Jean’s brother Brandt Jean, who took the witness stand during Guyger’s sentencing, said he forgave her and asked if he could hug her, which the trial judge allowed him to do.
“I love you just like anyone else and I’m not going to hope you rot and die,” Brandt Jean told Guyger during the sentencing. “I personally want the best for you. I wasn’t going to say this in front of my family, I don’t even want you to go to jail. I want the best for you because I know that’s exactly what Botham would want for you. Give your life to Christ. I think giving your life to Christ is the best thing Botham would want for you.”
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