The defense for Amber Guyger, 32, the fired Dallas police officer convicted in 2019 of murdering 26-year-old neighbor Botham Shem Jean in his apartment is scheduled to make their appeal on Tuesday before the Fifth District Court of Appeals. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. ET / 3 p.m. CT.
There was no dispute at trial that Guyger killed Jean. She returned to their apartment complex on September 6, 2018, after a shift at work, but entered his residence through the unsecured door, believing it was hers. Thinking Jean was an intruder, she opened fire, killing him. In truth, Guyger was the intruder.
In opening statements of the 2019 trial, defense lawyer Robert Rogers described the shooting as caused by an “unfortunate set of circumstances.” Guyger was tired after a long day of work and was on “autopilot” trying to get home. The defense tried to show that she had a rigorous schedule as a police officer.
The state maintained that Guyger made a series of unreasonable, avoidable errors. She parked on the fourth floor of the apartment building, not the third where she lived. She missed numerous signs that she was at the wrong place, even overlooking the “extremely obvious bright red” doormat at the victim’s home, prosecutor Jason Hermus said. Though she worked overtime that day, that particular shift was not demanding, and she should have had the presence of mind to realize her actual whereabouts. The trajectory of the bullet indicated that Jean was either shot when he was getting up from the couch or crouching in fear of Guyger’s gun, the prosecutor said.
The defendant gave emotional testimony, expressing regret for killing the victim. Jurors convicted Guyger nonetheless, but decided to sentence her to 10 years in prison, far less than the possible maximum term in 99 years.
Guyger filed for appeal last year.
“Although Guyger was not in actual danger, there was apparent danger from her standpoint, and Guyger was entitled to use deadly force to protect against this apparent danger,” stated the filing signed by attorney Michael Mowla (h/t NBC DFW), saying, “Guyger acted on the reasonable apprehension of danger as it appeared to her.”
The defense continued to maintain that there was not enough evidence to convict because Guyger she made a reasonable mistake that eliminated her legal responsibility for the murder. They asserted that, at most, Guyger should only be convicted of criminally negligent homicide.
[Mugshot via Mountain View State Prison]
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