On Wednesday, Amber Guyger was sentenced to ten years in prison for murdering Botham Jean in his own home last year. Guyger was facing up to 99 years in prison and many critics were outraged by the significantly shorter number.
Two of the jurors on the case went on “Good Morning America” to explain their side of the story and what it was like in the deliberation room.
“I think that was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do,” said juror 34, a Black woman.
“There was a lot of crying,” continued juror 21, a white man. “When we were told to go decide between five and life that was like…we didn’t have words.”
When it was pointed out that the prosecutors were calling on Guyger to receive 28 years, jury 21 said that it was Jean that moved him to go for a lighter sentence:
“After hearing about how his family talked about him, he just seemed like the light in their lives and he was kind and caring and forgiving, and I told everyone, I was like ‘I’m really having a hard time with this because we all agree that this was a mistake and I don’t think Bo would want to take harsh vengeance. I think he would want to forgive her.’ And I didn’t feel like I had any right to speak for him and he isn’t there to talk for himself, but listening to how people talked about him I felt like he would forgive her.”
Juror 34 followed up by saying, “They asked for 28 years and I’m going to be honest and true. I was like ‘I can’t give her 28 years.’ I know a lot of people aren’t happy about the 10 years, but I felt like you know, for this case, was not like any other case. You can’t compare this case to any of those other officers killing unarmed Black men. Those officers that kill unarmed Black men, when they got out, they went back to living their lives. Amber Guyger, ever since she killed that man, she has not been the same. She showed remorse in that she’s going to have to deal with that for the rest of her life.”
Juror 34 finished by saying:
“If it’s one thing that Botham can teach us all is that we should all love each other instead of hate each other. And I honestly think that if Botham would’ve just got shot and not killed. I think he would’ve forgiven Amber Guyger.”
Botham’s 18-year-old brother also received backlash for hugging Guyger in court and saying he forgives her. He responded on “Good Morning America” by saying, “I knew that I just told her that I forgave her and with usual instances the words only, they mean something, but I felt like that wasn’t enough.” He further explained that the hug “was just my gesture, my decision of letting her know that I truly forgive her.”
Guyger’s trial took a full seven days and stemmed from the tragic September 6, 2018, incident when she mistakenly entered Jean’s apartment after a long day at work as a Dallas police officer. She says she mistook Jean for a burglar and she ordered him not to move. Then, she shot him twice before realizing her devastating error. Jean was killed at age 26 while watching T.V. and eating ice cream.