Amber Guyger Sentenced, Avoids Life in Prison
“The only reason we all sit in this courtroom today is because of her actions. And for her actions, there must be consequences.”
Ten years in jail is the sentence for Amber Guyger, the 31-year-old Dallas police officer who fatally shot 26-year-old Botham Jean as he ate ice cream at home in his own apartment. Guyger, who is white, allegedly mistook Jean, who is black, as an intruder in her apartment before realizing she had arrived at the wrong apartment.
A Dallas County jury found Guyger guilty of murder Tuesday morning, despite the defense’s argument that Guyger had acted out of self-defense and in fear of her life after a long chain of a “series of horrible mistakes.” Guyger faced between five and 99 years or life in prison and become the first Dallas police officer convicted of murder since the 1970s.
After Tuesday’s ruling, jurors heard testimony from friends and family members of both Jean and Guyger. According to the Dallas Morning News, the prosecution attempted to portray the profound impact of Jean’s loss on his family and the defense asked the jurors to judge Guyger’s character through her lifetime of relationships with friends and family.
“How could that happen to us, our family?” Bertrum Jean, Botham’s father, said through tears. “How could we have lost Botham — such a sweet boy. He tried his best to live a good, honest life. He loved God. He loved everyone. How could this happen to him?”
In her closing argument, the prosecutor LaQuita Long told the jury, “The only reason we all sit in this courtroom today is because of her actions. And for her actions, there must be consequences.”
Defense attorney Toby Shook asked the jury for leniency in sentencing Guyger.
“Amber Guyger has a conscience. She’s shown true remorse. She feels horrible for what she did, and for the rest of her life, every day, every hour, every minute, she’ll think of what she did to Botham Jean and regret it in every bit of her soul.”
Throughout the trial, the prosecution and lawyers for the Jean family argued Guyger could not have acted out of self-defense as Jean never posed a threat and that Guyger had other options besides shooting. They also questioned why Guyger, upon arriving at what she thought was her apartment and finding an intruder, did not call for backup first. Further lines of questioning asked how Guyger could have not noticed Jean’s bright red doormat and insisted that Guyger could not have performed CPR on Jean, as she claimed, because her uniform contained no traces of blood.
Other evidence presented during the trial included sexual text messages between Guyger and her married partner Martin Rivera. The two had a sexual relationship and were on the phone as Guyger drove home and parked in her apartment building the night she shot Jean.
According to the Dallas Morning News, in a text to Rivera several hours before the shooting, she wrote she was “super horny today.” Then later that night at about 9:30 p.m. she sent Rivera a Snapchat message that said, “Wanna touch?”
At 9:55 p.m. Guyger ended the call with Rivera and walked towards Jean’s apartment who was then shot dead three minutes later.