Former Dallas police officer and convicted murderer Amber Guyger, 31, has a new mugshot, signaling the beginning of her 10-year prison sentence in earnest.
The defendant was convicted on Tuesday, and sentenced on Wednesday in the murder of neighbor Botham Shem Jean, 26. Both she and the victim lived at the South Side Flats apartment complex. She lived on the third floor but accidentally parked on the fourth after a long day at work; she went to Jean’s apartment while believing it was hers, she said. Guyger shot and killed Jean while thinking he was an intruder, she said. Her defense argued this was a reasonable mistake under the law. Jurors sided with the prosecution.
The case landed on a cultural fissure and fueled an ongoing national debate over how law enforcement treats people of color, especially black men. Guyger is white. Jean was black.
During the sentencing hearing, prosecutors worked to show what was lost upon the victim’s horrific death. Those who knew him agreed he was smart, gregarious, and caring. The state also introduced texts showing that Guyger joked about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.‘s assassination, and said black cops had a “different way of working.”
The defense tried to show that Guyger was a good person. They had the Guyger’s mother, Karen Guyger, to describe the defendant’s childhood, saying she “loved going outside all the time and made friends real quick.” She also said her daughter was a survivor of sexual abuse.
Prosecutors asked for 28 years, but jurors handed down 10. One member of the jury told ABC that the defendant showed remorse, while another said he thought that Jean wouldn’t have wanted “harsh vengeance.”
Controversy followed when the victim’s brother, Brandt Jean, and the presiding judge, Tammy Kemp, decided to hug Guyger at the sentencing hearing. The Freedom From Religion Foundation also filed an ethics complaint against Kemp for “proselytizing.”
Jerry Lambe contributed to this report.
[Screengrab via Law&Crime Network, Mountain View State Prison]