Amber Guyger to appeal murder conviction in death of Botham Jean

She has served one and a half years of her 10-year sentence and will have her appeal heard by a panel of judges next week.

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Amber Guyger seeks to get her conviction overturned for the murder of Botham Jean.

Read More: Texas law enforcement group gives Botham Jean’s brother award for hugging Amber Guyger

According to CBS DFW, Guyger will have her appeal heard by a panel of judges a year and a half into her 10-year sentence. She was convicted of shooting and killing Jean, who lived in an apartment directly above hers. According to her argument, she mistakenly got off on the wrong floor and entered his apartment, thinking he was an intruder in her home. 

Attorney Toby Shook is not representing her in the appeal. However, he declares due to her reasoning for firing the gun, Guyger should have been charged with criminally negligent homicide, not murder. 

“Statistics show that felonies are not often reversed for trials,” said Shook to the outlet. “They are low. They do happen, but it just depends on the actual issues, so it’s kind of hard to predict, but most cases are affirmed.”

Amber Guyger
Former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger, center, arrives for the first day of her murder trial in the 204th District Court at the Frank Crowley Courts Building in Dallas, Monday, Sept. 23, 2019. Guyger is accused of shooting her black neighbor in his Dallas apartment. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News via AP, Pool)

According to CBS, her appeal will be presented in front of a 3-judge panel. theGrio reported Guyger and her legal team shared their intent to appeal in October 2019. In this process, the city is making sure that there is new personnel appointed to the case.

Given that Guyger garnered sympathy from Judge Tammy Kemp in her case, the Dallas County District Attorney’s office filed a petition to have her recused from overseeing the upcoming hearings and replaced by another judge, NBC 5’s media partner KRLD reported.

In August 2020, an appeal was filed to reduce the former police officers’ charge to criminally negligent homicide. In a brief, Guyger’s lawyers argued against the evidence.

“The evidence was legally insufficient to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Guyger committed Murder because (1) through mistake, Guyger formed a reasonable belief about a matter of fact—that she entered her apartment and there was an intruder inside—and (2) her mistaken belief negated the culpability for Murder because although she intentionally and knowingly caused Jean’s death,” the brief read.

“She had the right to act in deadly force in self-defense since her belief that deadly force was immediately necessary was reasonable under the circumstances.”

Read More: Atatiana Jefferson’s grieving father says, ‘Unlike this Botham Jean, I don’t want no hug,’ after daughter was gunned down by Fort Worth cop in her own home

Guyger’s case not only made headlines for her murderous behavior but also how Jean’s family engaged with their loved one’s killer during the trial process. theGrio reported in December 2019,  Brandt Jean, brother of Botham, was awarded by The Institute for Law Enforcement Administration for hugging Guyger after she was found guilty.

Gregory Smith, the director of the Dallas-area institute, said Brandt Jean’s actions have helped the community heal. Jean himself admitted that it was difficult accepting the award from a police training group since he believes that it was actually a lack of proper training that lead to his brother’s death. 

“I am honored to accept it on behalf of my brother Botham Shem Jean, who was an example of ethical leadership,” he said during the ceremony.

“I never intended for the statement I made to the person that murdered my brother to receive such international recognition,” he continued. “To be honest, I struggled with it for a long time as I struggled with accepting this award from this agency.”

“After being found guilty by a jury of her peers, sentenced under the law, Ms. Guyger needed to be forgiven, and I needed to be free from the burden of unforgiveness,” explained Jean.

Botham Jean
Sammie L. Berry invites questions after making a statement at a press conference following the funeral service for Botham Shem Jean, where his mother, father, and brother stand by along with attorney Lee Merritt. (Photo by Stewart F. House/Getty Images)

The news of Guyger’s appeal being presented next week comes in the wake of former police officer Derek Chauvin being found guilty of murdering George Floyd. Jurors from Guyger’s case reflected on the feelings of being a central part of a high-profile criminal case.

According to ABC 8, Juror 34 said, “When you put twelve people with twelve different mindsets, twelve different backgrounds, twelve different nationalities in one room and you’re expecting to get one number, it’s not going to happen.”

She also noted a differene between the two cases.

“Even when she went on the stand, which a lot of people didn’t get to see, but she went out of order just to apologize to the family,” she said. “But Derek Chauvin, he didn’t even testify, and honestly watching him he didn’t even show any remorse. Like he doesn’t seem sad at all.”

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