On Thursday, a Texas appeals court upheld the murder conviction against a Dallas ex-police officer who fatally shot her neighbor in his Dallas home.
Three state judges determined that Amber Guyger was guilty of murder in the shooting death of Botham Jean in 2018.
Guyger will serve her 10-year sentence in Texas Prison. This decision was made by the 5th Texas Court of Appeals Dallas. It effectively ends Guyger’s hopes of getting her 2019 conviction overturned. Under her current sentence, she will be eligible for parole in 2024.
This ruling is in a case that attracted national attention due to its unusual circumstances and because it was the first in a series of shootings of Black men in police custody.
The basic facts of the case were not disputed by the appeals court justices. Guyger returned from a long work shift and mistook Jean’s apartment for hers. It was located on the floor below Jean’s. She found the door open and entered, shooting him. Later, she testified that she believed he was a burglar.
Jean, a 26-year-old accountant, had been eating a bowl of ice cream before Guyger shot him. Later, she was fired by the Dallas Police Department.
Guyger’s appeal hung on the claim that her mistaking Jean’s apartment for her own was reasonable, and therefore, so too was the shooting. Her lawyer requested that the appeals court acquit Guyger of murder or substitute her conviction for criminally negligent killing, which carries an even lower sentence.
Dallas County prosecutors countered by stating that Guyger admitted to intending Jean’s death and that murder is a result-oriented crime.
Robert D. Burns III, the court’s chief judge, and Justices Lana Myers, Robbie Partida–Kipness agreed with the prosecutors. They disagreed that Guyger’s belief in deadly force was necessary was reasonable.
The justices disagreed with Guyger’s testimony that she intended killing, in a 23-page opinion.
The judges stated that “that she was mistaken about Jean’s status in his apartment as a resident or a burglar in hers did not change her mental condition from intentional or knowing criminally negligent.” “We decline to use Guyger’s misperceptions of the circumstances that led to her incorrect beliefs as a basis for reforming the jury’s verdict, in light of direct evidence of her intention to kill.”
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the highest forum in Texas for criminal cases, could be contacted by defense attorneys to request review of the decision of the appeals court. Guyger’s lawyer did not receive a response immediately.