After less than 24 hours of deliberations, a jury has found a former Dallas police officer who shot and killed her neighbor after mistaking his apartment for her own and treating him as an intruder guilty of murder.
The guilty verdict comes after a week-long trial in which Amber Guyger's defense tried to show that Guyger was justified in killing her 26-year-old neighbor, Botham Jean. Robert Rogers, Guyger's attorney, stated that Guyger's mistake was a result of exhaustion from working 40 hours in four days, from knowledge of recent burglaries in the complex, and from genuine confusion over whose apartment she was in. The defense also claimed that Jean, when he heard Guyger enter his apartment, shouted "Hey! Hey!"—which prompted Guyger to draw her weapon and demand that Jean show her his hands. Jean allegedly failed to comply with Guyger's order, making her "fear for her life" and fatally shoot Jean.
The prosecution argued that Guyger acted unreasonably by using lethal force, noting that Jean, at the time of Guyger's intrusion, was sitting on his couch enjoying a bowl of vanilla ice cream, and that the trajectory of Jean's bullet wounds suggested that Jean was likely getting up from his couch when Guyger shot him.
Assistant District Attorney Jason Hermus also drew attention to several sexually explicit messages Guyger had sent to her partner the day of Jean's death, containing evidence of Guyger saying that she was "super horny [on the day of Jean's death]," to counter the defense's claim that Guyger's mistake was the result of exhaustion. She sent out one of the messages via Snapchat 30 minutes before shooting Jean, asking, "Wanna touch?"
The guilty verdict comes after Judge Tammy Kemp of the 204th District Court in Dallas County ruled that the jury could, as part of its deliberations, consider the Castle Doctrine, which is a part of Texas' "Stand Your Ground" laws that permits an individual to use lethal force to reclaim property that they "reasonably [believe] the other person had no claim of right [to]" and when "[one] reasonably believes the use of force is immediately necessary." In the same ruling, Kemp also stated that the jury could consider charging Guyger with manslaughter instead of murder. Guyger had the potential to walk free if the jury had decided that the Castle Doctrine was applicable or to serve up to 20 years in prison if the jury had delivered a manslaughter verdict.
Guyger now awaits sentencing for Jean's murder. She faces anywhere from five to 99 years in prison.