Former police officer Amber Guyger, 31, says she mistook Botham Jean’s apartment for her own on September 6,2018 and opened fire thinking the 26-year-old man was a burglar. Will jurors believe her story? Right now, Guyger is on trial for murder in Dallas, Texas.
Law&Crime’s team of legal experts and hosts weigh in on whether Amber Guyger should testify in her own defense.
Brian Buckmire, host, and public defense attorney:
I think the defense played their hand and #AmberGuyger is testifying. I’m not sure if you can get the details, at least as presented, that they put into the opening without her testifying.
Does she testify? Do you let the 911 call be the only thing testimony they hear from her?
I’m always wary of my client testifying but I think it’s required here. And as an officer she knows how to testify. There needs to be more than her standing in a room with a gun trained on a man standing in his own home. She needs to testify to the fear she felt at the moment and explain why it was reasonable. Otherwise a young group that is diverse in gender and race is likely to convict.
Jesse Weber, host and attorney:
She’s going to be asked about why she said “I’m tired” in the 911 call and then if she was so tired why did she want to fool around with Martin Rivera that night? Too tired to drive home? No. Too tired to park? No. Too tired to ignore the floor, the rooms, the mat, the plant. Hmmmm……no you were distracted and flirting. These mistakes were not honest but your fault. That’s how I imagine that will go for her
Bob Bianchi, host and attorney:
So nuanced. You never want a client on the stand unless at end of state’s case the facts and law are both bad for you. To me a client testifying should only be a Hail Mary tactic. As my old mentor always said (and I have found tone very true) “Juries love to convict from the testimony of a defendant testifying before them!”
As we are debating, the law here is confusing/complex. That could help the defendant. If she testifies and gets a prosecutor crossing them like the prosecutor in the Mullis trial, the defendant could get torched on the witness stand. My game plan as a defense attorney at this stage is to get just 1 juror to hang the case. I don’t want a testifying defendant to mess that up.
But again, we have to see how case goes in. And, as a real world matter, defense attorneys also measure the skill set of the prosecutor when evaluating.
I would love to ask former police officer Jason Van Dyke (Jason McDonald trial) what his opinion is. He is the modern day example of a cop testifying himself right into a conviction!