(DAILY MAIL) — The judge who embraced and gave her Bible to killer cop Amber Guyger just moments after being sentenced to 10 years in prison says she couldn’t refuse her hug and wants her to live a purposeful life.
Judge Tammy Kemp said on Monday that she watched Guyger change during the high-profile murder trial that saw the 31-year-old convicted of killing her upstairs neighbor Botham Jean.
Kemp, who handed Guyger her own personal Bible before she was taken away to begin her prison sentence last week, said it was the first time she had done so.
She said she had never previously acknowledged her Christian faith to a defendant or given one a Bible, but Guyger had said she didn’t have one at the end of her trial.
In her first interview since the jury convicted Guyger of murder last week, Kemp said she felt her actions were appropriate since the trial was over and the convicted killer had told her she didn’t know how to begin seeking God’s forgiveness.
‘She asked me if I thought that God could forgive her and I said, ‘Yes, God can forgive you and has,’ Kemp said.
‘If she wanted to start with the Bible, I didn’t want her to go back to the jail and to sink into doubt and self-pity and become bitter.
‘Because she still has a lot of life ahead of her following her sentence and I would hope that she could live it purposefully.’
Kemp was pictured hugging Guyger in the courtroom soon after the sentence was handed down.
Critics blasted Judge Kemp, who is black, calling her embrace of Guyger inappropriate and deeply offensive to the victim’s family.
They argued it was unethical of Kemp to hug Guyger and give her the Bible. One group asked for a judicial misconduct investigation, and some activists have said the hug took the focus off justified anger at a police killing.
Kemp said that Guyger asked twice if she could hug her and, after a moment’s hesitation, the judge wrapped her arms around her.
‘Following my own convictions, I could not refuse that woman a hug. I would not,’ Kemp said.
‘I don’t understand the anger. I guess I could say if you profess religious beliefs and you are going to follow them, I would hope that they not be situational and limited to one race only.’
A jury found Guyger guilty of murder last week for shooting Jean in his home, which the off-duty cop said she mistook for her own
The scenes from inside the courtroom when Guyger was sentenced for the September 2018 shooting death of Jean quickly prompted widespread reaction.
The victim’s 18-year-old brother Brandt Jean left the courtroom stunned when he asked Judge Kemp if he could give Guyger a hug.
In an astonishing act of compassion, Brandt hugged his brother’s killer and told her he didn’t want to see her jailed.
‘If you truly are sorry, I forgive you. I know if you go to God and ask him he will forgive you,’ Brandt said to Guyger in the courtroom when he was allowed to deliver a victim impact statement.
‘I love you just like anyone else. I’m not going to say I hope you rot and die just like my brother did. I want the best for you. I don’t even want you to go to jail.’
Judge Kemp embraced the victim’s mother before she was pictured hugging Guyger.
The victim’s mother said outside court that Guyger’s sentence should serve as reflection and a period of time for her to change her life.
The 31-year-old was off-duty from the Dallas Police Department but still in uniform when she fatally shot the 26-year-old accountant in his own home in September 2018.
Guyger said she mistook Jean’s apartment for her own, which was one floor below, and that she thought he was an intruder when she opened fire.
Following an emotional six-day trial, prosecutors had urged the jury to give a punishment of no less than 28 years, which is how old Jean would have been if he was still alive.
Guyger’s defense attorneys had asked them to show leniency because she believed she was in her own apartment and acted out of fear.
In Texas, a murder sentence can range from five years to life in prison, but the judge also instructed jurors on a so-called sudden passion defense, which carries a range of between two to 20 years behind bars.