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(DALLAS NEWS) — Fired Dallas police officer Amber Guyger appeared in court Thursday, her first time before the judge who will oversee her murder trial in the shooting death of Botham Jean.
During a 12-minute hearing, state District Judge Tammy Kemp quizzed attorneys about the leaking of Guyger’s 911 call after the shooting despite a gag order. In the call, Guyger sounds frantic about shooting Jean but also repeatedly mentions that she is going to lose her job as a police officer.
Guyger was off-duty but in uniform Sept. 6, 2018, when she killed Jean in his Cedars apartment, a block away from Dallas police headquarters.
She told authorities she mistook Jean’s fourth-floor apartment for her own — which was directly below his — and thought the 26-year-old accountant was a burglar. She said his door was unlocked and ajar, though Jean’s family has questioned that account.
Jean, a native of St. Lucia, was watching football on his couch when Guyger arrived. She shot him once in the chest.
Guyger sat ramrod straight during the proceedings at the Frank Crowley Courts Building just outside downtown Dallas. She did not speak. Before the hearing began, she whispered “excuse me” to a man standing in the courtroom aisle who was preventing her from heading to the defense table.
Kemp had previously asked the prosecution and defense to question everyone they worked with about whether they released the 911 recording. She asked the attorneys for the results of the inquiries Thursday in court.
Kemp said she was “dismayed to find out the 911 call had been leaked to the media.” The person who released it, she said, “lacked the integrity and the fortitude to honor” the gag order.
Prosecutor Jason Hermus and defense attorney Robert Rogers said that they had not leaked the audio and that the people they asked also said they had not.
Hermus said Dallas police are still investigating whether any of the department’s officers released the call. Kemp asked Hermus to notify her if the police inquiry leads anywhere.
Kemp and the attorneys decided that jury selection will begin Sept. 6 — exactly one year after Jean’s death. Potential jurors will first fill out a questionnaire, and those who are not disqualified will return Sept. 13 to be questioned by the attorneys.
There probably will also be two pretrial hearings in July, but those dates have not been set.
Testimony is scheduled to begin Sept. 23.
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