Former Dallas cop Amber Guyger asks appeals court to dismiss murder conviction for Botham Jean murder
Update: This story has been updated with comments from Botham Jean’s mother, Allison Jean.
Lawyers for former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger will present their case Tuesday to a panel of appeal judges to dismiss his murder conviction for the murder of Botham Jean in his own apartment. Dallas County prosecutors said the jury verdict should stand.
Guyger, convicted of murder in 2019 for shooting Jean, has argued in court records that at most she should be convicted of criminally negligent homicide. This charge is a lesser felony and punishable by two years in prison.
Guyger testified that she mistakenly entered the wrong apartment one floor above hers and shot Jean, believing he was an intruder, on September 6, 2018. Guyger had just finished his shift and was still in uniform when she shot Jean with her departmental weapon. . Jean was eating ice cream on his sofa when Guyger entered the apartment.
Jurors heard six days of testimony before convicting Guyger of murder in October 2019. She is serving a 10-year prison sentence.
Guyger’s lawyers say that although she intended to shoot Jean when she fired her gun, a finding necessary for a murder conviction, she believed she had a right to act in self-defense. Texas allows the use of lethal force in self-defense situations.
“A rational jury would have concluded that Guyger was reasonable in his belief that she entered his apartment, saw an intruder who did not show her hands and was justified in using lethal force in self-defense,” her lawyers wrote in a brief filed with a request for hearing.
But the jury that convicted Guyger considered the state castle doctrine, the right to use deadly force in self-defense, when deciding whether to convict Guyger. They rejected the idea that this applied to her.
During the deliberations, the jury addressed to the court a question on the doctrine of the castle.
“What if Botham had shot her for entering his home?” Jean’s family lawyer, Daryl K. Washington, said during the trial, citing the jury’s question. “Could he have used the castle doctrine?”
Guyger’s attorneys have written that judges at the Dallas Fifth Court of Appeals should acquit Guyger of murder. If the judges convict her on the contrary for murder by criminal negligence, they should order a new trial on her sentence, added her lawyers.
Dallas County prosecutors for District Attorney John Creuzot are fighting to uphold his conviction and say Guyger’s conviction is appropriate. They maintain that she is only trying to overturn a verdict that she did not want.
“Because intentionally killing a man in his own apartment is murder, the State of Texas claims that [Guyger’s] the conviction is fine, and this Court should say so, ”prosecutors wrote in a brief filed ahead of the hearing.
The hearing will be broadcast on the court YouTube channel. Guyger, who is serving his sentence in a Texas jail, will not be in the courtroom.
Jean’s mother, Allison, said Guyger’s decision to appeal has delayed his family’s healing process. She hadn’t planned to watch the hearing, but changed her mind after realizing that the media and others will be asking questions about the court’s decision once it is completed.
“I know everyone has a right of appeal, and I believe she uses that right,” said Allison Jean. “But on the other hand, there is a person who can no longer use their rights because they have taken them away.
“So after turning 10, only 10, for killing someone in their prime and not doing any harm in the comfort of their home, I think she should accept, take responsibility for it and move on, ”she said.
Editor-in-chief Kelli Smith contributed to this report.