Former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger appealed her 2019 conviction in the murder of Botham Jean on Tuesday. Local news reported that her defense team planned to argue that the convicted murderer who shot and killed the 26-year-old unarmed Black man inside his own apartment should have been charged with criminally negligent homicide.
Guyger’s attorneys filed a notice to file an appeal shortly after her conviction. Sentenced to 10 years in prison, Guyger could be released from prison if the appeal is decided in her favor.
Jean’s mother recently told CNN in an interview that Guyger should serve out her sentence and pay the consequences for her actions.
“Amber Guyger needs to sit where she is in prison and accept responsibility for what she did to my son, my family, my country, my world,” Allison Jean said from her native St. Lucia.
She specifically requested the Court of Appeals in the Fifth District of Texas to overturn her conviction and apply the lesser included charge. In the appeal filed last August, defense attorneys argued the state failed to meet its burden on a finding of murder.
Part of their argument turns on the assumption that it was reasonable for Guyger to use deadly force to defend herself against a person she assumed was an intruder even though Jean was eating ice cream at the time.
The state has raised a cross-issue regarding a jury instruction given at the original trial regarding a mistake on appeal. The state argues that Guyger’s alleged mistake in entering the wrong apartment does not change the outcome or intent of her action when she shot and killed Jean.
Guyger previously admitted at trial she intended to shoot to kill and shot twice to “maximize the lethality.” The state contends that her mistake of entering the wrong apartment did not negate the intent in killing the person inside. Therefore it was inappropriate for a jury instruction to be given at the 2019 trial.
Guyger maintains she mistook Botham’s apartment as her own when she shot him in 2018. At Guyger’s initial trial, legal counsel claimed that the former officer was defending herself when she shot Botham, who was eating ice cream on his couch. Based on this mistake, she and her lawyers believe the murder conviction was incorrect.
A jury of Guyger’s peers rejected the mistaken self-defense claim at trial, and now her attorneys want a panel of appellate judges to replace the jury’s verdict with their own determination. A finding of murder under Texas law requires providing beyond a reasonable doubt a person intentionally or knowingly caused the death of an individual, and intends to cause serious bodily injury, and commits an act clearly dangerous to human life that causes the death of an individual.
Three justices will make up the panel hearing Guyger’s appeal: Chief Justice Robert D. Burns III and justices Lana Myers and Robbie Partida-Kipness. The judges will hear arguments and issue a written decision at a later date.