UPDATED: 7:35 a.m. EDT, Oct. 2 —
Amber Guyger‘s murder trial may have ended with her conviction, but the case is still very much active as the sentencing phase hasn’t been completed. It did, however, get underway on Tuesday after the jury returned a guilty verdict for the murder of Botham Jean, who was shot to death by Guyger in his own home last year.
The jury took less than 24 hours of deliberating to decide Guyger was guilty, and now she’s facing up to 99 years in prison for her actions. During the sentencing phase, a lot of other damning, but apparently irrelevant, information came out about Guyger, including racist text messages and social media posts that were not allowed to be seen by the jury.
Jean’s mother, Allison Jean, who was photographed rejoicing in court after the verdict was announced, testified, as well.
Local Dallas reported Jobin Panicker tweeted that the state wanted to include Guyger’s previous application to be a police officer in Fort Worth, Texas. She was allegedly not hired because she failed a polygraph and admitted to smoking marijuana.
Botham Jean’s family lawyer said during a press conference after the verdict that given the jury returning a guilty verdict, he had confidence that a just sentence would be given to Guyger.
Guyger was booked into the Dallas County Jail at 4:43 p.m. local time, but she was scheduled to be right back in court Wednesday morning until she gets sentenced.
Court proceedings were scheduled to start around 10 a.m. local time. To watch the sentencing phase continue on Wednesday, click here or watch the video embedded below.
Keep reading to find updates from Day 1 of the trial through Tuesday’s verdict and the beginning of Guyger’s sentencing hearing.
UPDATED 12:23 p.m. EDT, Oct. 1 —
Amber Guyger has been found guilty of murder for killing Botham Jean, the trial’s jury announced in Dallas on Tuesday. The verdict came less than 24 hours after the panel began deliberating following closing arguments on Monday.
UPDATED: 8:37 a.m. EDT, Sept. 30 —
The second week of Amber Guyger‘s murder trial was scheduled to begin Monday morning with her defense attorneys continuing to present its case in an effort to convince the jury their client is not guilty of murdering Botham Jean, who was shot to death in his own Dallas home last year. The case continued on Saturday before taking Sunday off.
Saturday’s session surrounded the contentious topic of whether the jury should be allowed to hear expert testimony on whether Guyger’s shooting of Jean was “reasonable.” Use of force expert Craig Miller, testifying as a witness for the defense, explained to Judge Tammy Kemp that he thought the shooting was justified. But upon cross-examination, the prosecution got Miller to admit that the Supreme Court actually has no definition for what is “reasonable.”
Ultimately, Kemp ruled that Miller would be able to testify on what he said was Guyger’s “inattentional blindness” — described as a temporary condition of being distracted — but not whether he thought shooting Jean was “reasonable.” The prosecution quickly established that the concept of inattentional blindness is neither universally not scientifically accepted or recognized.
Earlier in the week, the prosecution got Guyger to admit on the stand that when she shot Jean, she intended to kill him. Dallas criminal defense attorney Barry Sorrels said live on the air during WFAA’s coverage of the trial that her admission should serve as proof that she committed murder, which occurs under Texas if someone “intentionally or knowingly causes the death of an individual.”
To watch a live stream of Day 7 of Amber Guyger’s murder trial, watch the embedded video below.
To see what happened during the first week of the trial, click here or scroll down to continue reading.
UPDATED: 8:50 am. EDT, Sept. 27 —
Day 5 of Amber Guyger‘s murder trial Friday was expected to feature the defense’s star witness: the disgraced former police officer herself, who will testify and try to convince the jury that her killing of Botham Jean in his own home was justified.
The prosecution rested its case on Thursday, pushing the trial to advance quicker than was anticipated. Judge Tammy Kemp adjourned the case until Friday morning because the defense seemed to be caught off guard by the prosecution resting its case so quickly.
However, Guyger’s lawyers did move to file a motion to have Kemp issue a verdict immediately because, they argued, the prosecution was not successful in arguing its case. Kemp quickly denied the request. After the prosecution rested, it was being reported that Guyger would take the stand that same day. Those reports turned out to be inaccurate after Kemp adjourned for the day.
One of the key areas the prosecution focused on during Thursday’s session was the contrast between first responders and Guyger, who apparently did not even attempt to perform CPR on Jean. Bodycam footage shown in court each day this week showed first responders immediately performing CPR on Jean, leaving them splattered with his blood from the two gunshot wounds to the upper left side of his chest. Guyger’s uniform, conversely, did not have a trace of any blood on it.
Dallas Police Officer Tu Minh Nguyen, who was one of the first responders, testified on Thursday that Jean was “still alive” when he showed up and began performing CPR.
On Wednesday, the prosecution presented a timeline showing that at least five minutes elapsed between Guyger calling 911 and when first responders arrived. That means that Jean went without the medical attention that Guyger, as a police officer at the time, had been trained to administer in such situations. That, the prosecution argued, justifies the murder charge she is facing.
One the defense’s primary contentions in asserting that Guyger is innocent has been the claim that she fired her gun because Jean was charging at her as she entered his apartment. While that might seem like a perfectly reasonable response to seeing a stranger enter one’s home, the defense has argued that alleged factor gave Guyger the right to defend herself — even if she had entered Jean’s home illegally.
The positioning and proximity of Jean’s body was a focus on Thursday, as well. The defense has said it showed that Jean’s was running at Guyger. But bodycam footage refuted that by showing that first responders moved his body, as well as furniture in the apartment in order to properly show medical attention to Jean.
Keep up with the rest of our coverage of Amber Guyger’s murder trial by scrolling down to see reports from earlier in the week.
UPDATED: 9:54 a.m. EDT, Sept. 26 —
Day 3 of Amber Guyger‘s murder trial began with the unexpected revelation that a juror told the bailiff that she had a relationship with one of the prosecution’s main witnesses. After deliberation, Judge Tammy Kemp allowed the juror to remain serving for the trial before the witness, David Armstrong of the Texas Rangers, went on to tell the court that he believed there was no crime committed against Botham Jean, who was unarmed when Guyger entered his home and killed him.
Guyger’s lawyers tried to use photos to establish the similarities between her apartment and Jean’s as a way to justify her app[arent confusion between the two that purportedly led her to suspect he was a burglar. However, the differences in apartments — cleanliness, decor and more — seemed to be more apparent than anything else.
The prosecution also presented a digital timeline showing key moments of the fateful night of Sept. 6 last year. It included the time when Guyger called 911 and the moment the first responding officer arrived and finally began performing CPR. That meant at least five minutes went by without Jean having any kind of medical attention that Guyger is trained to give gunshot victims.
Follow our coverage from the first week of this trial below.
UPDATED: 6:27 a.m. EDT, Sept. 25 —
Day 2 of Amber Guyger‘s murder trial saw multiple witnesses called to the stand by the prosecution, which was still presenting its case to bring justice to Botham Jean, who was shot and killed in his own home under circumstances that grew increasingly implausible after hearing testimony in Dallas Criminal Court on Tuesday.
While Guyger’s lawyers were able to secure a glimmer of good news for their client — her toxicology report indicated she did not have drugs or alcohol in her system at the time she shot Jean twice in his apartment, purportedly mistaking it for her own — that seemed to be the only silver lining of the day for the defense team, which has seemingly been trying to criminalize Jean in death over a small, irrelevant amount of marijuana that was found in his apartment.
That was because prosecutors played video footage responding officers’ bodycams and surveillance footage that showed Guyger was not rendering any type of first aid or CPR to the man who she executed on sight when police arrived following her 911 call, which was also played in court on Tuesday.
Separate bodycam videos showed first responders going into Jean’s apartment and immediately performing CPR on him, indicating he was still alive. The prosecution argued that Guyger not only left Jean to die, betraying her sworn oath to protect and serve, but she also ignored her police training of yelling out any verbal commands or even identifying herself as an officer before she fired off her service weapon at an unwitting victim caught by surprise in his own home.
Other video footage from that fateful night at the South Side Flats apartment complex last year appeared to show police and department officials giving preferential treatment to someone who was the prime suspect in a single, unprovoked shooting of an unarmed Black man that was becoming a homicide investigation.
Video showed Guyger being placed in the front of a police cruiser with her cellphone and no handcuffs in place. At one point, a police official came over to hug and console her. Recordings were stopped and Guyger was encouraged by police not to say anything, which is, of course, the polar opposite treatment homicide suspects are typically afforded by law enforcement investigating an active crime scene. Guyger was not being treated as a suspect even though Dallas Police Sgt. Breanne Valentine, one of the earliest responders, testified Tuesday that everybody on the scene knew Guyger had shot Jean and everybody knew Jean was unarmed. The prosecution argued that a Dallas Police Union rep motioned to Valentine to shut off in-car video recording system trained on Guyger, an order that was complied with.
The defense argued that the treatment Guyger got was the same for all officers involved in a shooting. The president of the Dallas Police Union sent a text message to WFAA anchors live on the air and asked why the district attorney’s office has never had a problem with this practice until now. “Not once has it been called into question until now,” Mike Mata reportedly texted.
Later, the prosecution began calling to the stand neighbors of Jean, all of whom corroborated the narrative that Guyger never issued any verbal commands or identified herself before shooting. The hallway outside of Jean’s apartment is not a large space and neighbors said they could typically hear what happens outside of their doors.
Joshua Brown, who lived across the hall from Jean, offered emotional testimony and said he could regularly hear Jean singing in the mornings, an indication of the acoustics in at least that portion of the South Side Flats apartments. Brown testified that he had only met Jean that morning when the two exchanged brief pleasantries before he returned to his apartment later that night. Shortly afterward, Brown testified, he heard two gunshots outside of his door.
When Brown said when he finally decided to look through the peephole, he said he saw Guyger pacing back, using the phone and going in and out of Jean’s apartment. Brown, who admitted he, too, had made the mistake of going to the wrong floor before, testified that he heard two voices speaking, or “mixing together,” before the gunshots, but no police verbal commands being given. When the defense cross-examined Brown, the 28-year-old said he had gone “to the wrong floor on more than one occasion” but because his key didn’t work, along with other indicators, he knew was not on his actual floor.
Texas Rangers officer David Armstrong, who responded to the scene, also testified for the prosecution about how the fob key works with the locks in the South Side Flats apartments. He said Guyger must have ignored the multiple indications — a red light, a beeping sound — that she was at the wrong apartment.
What seems like the trial of the year finally got underway on Monday, more than a year after a white off duty police officer entered a Black man’s home in Dallas and killed him in his living room purportedly mistaking him for a burglar. Amber Guyger was charged with murder for her role in the killing of Botham Jean that put a unique spin on the police shooting an unarmed Black man narrative that has especially proliferated in recent years.
As such, the trial opened up in an unexpected fashion — with defense lawyers calling for a mistrial because they said that newly elected Dallas District Attorney John Creuzot violated Judge Tammy Kemp‘s gag order by offering his opinion on the case to a local TV news station. However, the request was shot down by Kemp after she learned the interview was actually old and came well after the judge put the gag order in place.
When it came time for opening arguments, the prosecution came out with a bang by claiming it had evidence that would disprove Guyger’s excuse of being exhausted after working a 13 and a half hour shift that she says led her to confuse Jean’s apartment for her own.
Prosecutor Jason Hermus asked the jury how Guyger could be tired since he said the text messages suggest she was ready to meet her boyfriend for sex. After Guyger finished her 13 and a half hour shift, Hermus said the contents of the text messages show she did not have plans to go home and rest, which is what someone who was supposed to be exhausted would likely do after a long day at work. The text messages showed “she had plans,” Hermus said while reading from a transcript of the messages.
“When can I come over?” Martin Rivera, identified as the person Guyger was texting with, asked in his message.
“You can come over after this,” Guyger responded in an apparent allusion to her finishing up at work.
She then texted to Rivera: “super horny today too,” to which Rivera responded, “me too.”
That prompted Guyger to ask him in her next text: “Do you wanna touch?”
That exchange showed, Hermus argued, that Guyger had plans to have sex with Rivera. It also belied logic, Hermus said, since Guyger was supposed to be exhausted — the reason she blamed on entering Jean’s apartment, which was located exactly one floor beneath hers.
The revelation was the first hint of what could have possibly been on Guyger’s mind when she did the unimaginable and shot Jean without any provocation.
Next up was the defense’s opening arguments, and Guyger’s lawyer’s went to extreme lengths to try to establish that she was not racist. That included mentioning that Guyger went to an “ethnically diverse high school” and she “overcame adversity” in her life. The defense also said that Guyger chose to work for the Dallas Police Department in “the southeast” because it was more diverse than other areas of the city. Her lawyers painted her as an angelic, altruistic officer motivated to become a cop because she wanted to help people.
Later, Jean, sister, Alissa Findley, took the stand as the prosecution’s witness to testify about the modest amount of marijuana that was found in her brother’s apartment after Guyger killed him. Officials tried to criminalize Jean in death when they announced that irrelevant discovery back in the infancy of the investigation a year ago. But Findley explained that her brother used marijuana to treat his ADHD, for which she said his prescribed Adderall had an adverse reaction.
Afterward, the prosecution called Rivera, the officer who was involved in a sexual relationship with Guyger — the same person with whom she was exchanging those racy text messages. He confirmed the sexual relationship he had with Guyger as well as those sext messages.
On the night of Sept. 6, 2018, Guyger claimed that following a long day on the job as a Dallas police officer, she somehow mistook his apartment for her own and, after ordering Jean not to move, shot him twice before realizing the error of her ways. Her story was met with doubt because of a number of factors, including and especially her assertion that Jean’s door was ajar. Videos posted on social media by neighbors appeared to show that apartment doors in the building shut automatically after being released, an indication that Guyger might have lied about that.
In addition to inconsistencies in her alibis, which have changed several times, Dallas police, of which Guyger was a member for five years before being fired, appeared to be helping to cover up the shooting for their colleague. The department was accused of allowing Guyger enough time to scrub her social media accounts and get her story straight before turning herself in three days after killing Jean. It also gave Guyger enough time to move out of her apartment, which was never searched by police despite five warrants allowing them to do so.
The trial, which was scheduled to resume Tuesday morning, was expected to last about two weeks.
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