Former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger appeals murder charge in Botham Jean case

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Former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger appeals murder charge in Botham Jean case
Amber Guyger (left) and Botham Jean

(USA TODAY) — Attorneys for Amber Guyger, a white former Dallas police officer, filed an appeal this week to overturn her murder conviction in the shooting of Botham Jean, her Black unarmed neighbor, inside his home.

Guyger is serving a 10-year prison sentence for the September 2018 fatal killing. She testified in court that she mistook Jean for an intruder when she mistakenly entered his apartment, thinking it was her own, after a long shift at work. Guyger, 31, was in uniform at the time but was off-duty and shot Jean with a service weapon. Jean was eating a bowl of ice cream when he was killed.

In the appeal, filed with the 5th Texas Court of Appeals, Guyger’s attorneys ask the Dallas-based court to overturn her murder conviction and order a new sentencing and trial, or replace it with a conviction for criminally negligent homicide, which would carry a maximum punishment of two years in jail, the Associated Press reports.

Her attorneys argue that the evidence presented at her trial last year was “legally insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Guyger committed murder,” saying that Guyger had “reasonable belief” that she was in her own apartment and there was an intruder inside.

Botham Jean’s younger brother Brandt Jean hugs convicted murderer and former Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger after delivering his impact statement after she was sentenced to 10 years in jail, in Dallas. The Institute for Law Enforcement Administration gave 18-year-old Brandt Jean an award Dec. 3, 2019, for his “display of empathy and forgiveness” toward Guyger. Brandt said at the ceremony that it was hard to accept an award from a police training group because he believes a lack of training lead to his brother’s death. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News via AP, Pool, File)(Tom Fox)

They also argue her mistake “negated the culpability of murder because although she intentionally and knowingly caused Jean’s death, she had the right to act in deadly force of self-defense.”

Jean’s family responded to the appeal expressing their disappointment:

“After admitting her crime and asking Botham Jean’s family for mercy — Guyger’s actions in filing this appeal reflect someone who is not repentant but instead was hoping to play on the families sympathies at the time that they were most vulnerable,” S. Lee Merritt, attorney for the Jean family, said in a statement, according to CNN.

While protesters chanted “No justice! No peace!” outside the courthouse in 2019, the victim’s brother hugged Guyger in the courtroom in an emotional moment after the sentence was met. At the time, Brandt Jean said he forgave her and that his brother would have wanted Guyger to give her life to Christ.

While Guyger sobbed, he said, “I love you as a person. I don’t wish anything bad on you.”

The 2019 conviction, surrounded by a series of police killings of unarmed black men, drew national attention at the time and resurfaces less than a year later among nationwide protests against police brutality and killings of unarmed Black Americans George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and more.

Contributing: John Bacon and Jorge Ortiz, USA TODAY; Associated Press

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