(DAILY MAIL) — The judge in Amber Guyger’s murder trial has ruled that jurors can consider the stand your ground law in their verdict after the white cop shot dead her black neighbor when she allegedly mistakenly entered his apartment thinking it was her own.
Jurors started deliberating on Monday afternoon following a week of testimony in the 31-year-old’s murder trial in Dallas, Texas.
Guyger is on trial for shooting dead 26-year-old Botham Jean in his own apartment in September last year when she was off-duty from the Dallas Police Department.
Despite objections from prosecutors, Judge Tammy Kemp ruled on Monday that jurors could consider Castle Doctrine, otherwise known as stand your ground, when considering their verdict.
The law allows a person to use deadly force in protecting a home if someone is trying to forcibly enter.
Guyger’s defense attorneys had argued that she allegedly believed she was in her own apartment at the time and thought Jean was an intruder.
The judge also told the jury they could consider murder and manslaughter during their deliberations.
During closing arguments earlier on Monday, prosecutors slammed Guyger’s claims that she shot dead Jean because she thought he was an intruder as ‘garbage’ and ‘absurd’.
Assistant District Attorney Jason Fine said Guyger was an ‘intruder’ in Jean’s apartment and that the off-duty officer should have known she was in the wrong residence.
In front of jurors, the prosecutor scrunched up a copy of Guyger’s testimony, which she delivered tearfully last week.
‘It’s not a mistake. It’s a series of unreasonable decisions,’ Fine said, adding that Guyger wasn’t thinking like a ‘reasonable person’ that day.
Lee Merritt, a lawyer for the victim’s family, released a statement late Monday saying the jury in is weighing “the value of a black life’.
In her testimony on Friday, Guyger broke down in tears when she took to the stand and apologized for shooting dead her neighbor.
One of Guyger’s defense attorneys argued in his closing arguments that her belief she was killing an intruder in her home was entirely reasonable.
Defense attorney Toby Shook told jurors that the shooting was a result of ‘a series of horrible mistakes’.
Shook said Guyger opened fire after making a ‘split-second decision’.
The defense attorney noted that other residents in the complex had made the same mistake and gone to the wrong apartment.
Guyger’s testimony on Friday marked the first time the public heard directly from her since Jean’s killing.
She reenacted the moment she arrived at the wrong apartment thinking it was her own during her testimony.
She said she put her key in the apartment lock and the door opened because it hadn’t been fully closed.
Guyger said she immediately drew her gun because she thought someone was in her home. She testified that she was ‘scared to death’ when she opened the door fully and saw a silhouetted figure standing in the darkness inside.
She told the jury she shouted at Jean: ‘Let me see your hands, let me see your hands’.
Guyger explained she couldn’t see his hands and that he began coming toward her at a ‘fast-paced’ walk, yelling ‘hey, hey, hey’ in an ‘aggressive voice’.
She said that is when she fired her gun twice.
‘I was scared he was going to kill me,’ she said.
She said she intended to kill him when she pulled the trigger because that’s what she had been trained to do as a police officer.
During her testimony, she recounted police training that focused on learning to control suspects and the importance of seeing their hands, which kicked in as she spotted Jean.
When asked how she felt about killing an innocent man, she said through tears: ‘No police officer ever would want to hurt an innocent person.
‘I feel like a terrible person. I feel like a piece of cr**. I hate that I have to live with this every single day of my life. I feel like I don’t deserve the chance to be with my family and friends.
‘I wish he was the one with the gun and had killed me. I never wanted to take an innocent person’s life. I am so sorry. This is not about hate, it’s about being scared that night.’
Guyger was off duty but still in uniform when she shot Jean in his home on the evening of September 6, 2018.
She told investigators that after a 13.5 hour shift she parked on the fourth floor of her apartment complex’s garage – rather than the third floor where she lived – and found the apartment’s door ajar.
Believing she was at her own apartment and seeing a silhouette of a figure who didn’t respond to verbal commands, Guyger said she fired two shots at Jean that killed him.
Prosecutors argued during the trial that Guyger should have noticed she was on the wrong floor, while her defense attorneys said she fired in self-defense based on the mistaken belief that Jean was a burglar.