Guyger testified at her 2019 trial that after working long hours on September 6, 2018, she returned to her Dallas apartment complex. In uniform but off duty, she approached what she thought was her apartment. She noticed the door was partially open, saw a man inside who she believed to be an intruder and fired her service weapon, killing him.
She was actually at the apartment directly above hers — where Jean, a 26-year-old PricewaterhouseCoopers accountant, lived. Prosecutors said Jean had been on the couch in his shorts, watching TV and eating vanilla ice cream when Guyger walked in and fatally shot him.
In October 2019, a jury found Guyger guilty of murdering Jean and sentenced her to 10 years in prison.
Guyger’s defense claims there was insufficient evidence to convict her of murder. The defense has asked the Fifth District Court of Appeals in Dallas to either acquit Guyger of that charge or make a finding of criminally negligent homicide — which carries a punishment of six months to two years — and hold a new hearing on the punishment.
Jean’s mother, Allison, told CNN she was confident the appeals court would uphold the murder conviction.
“Amber Guyger needs to sit where she is in prison and accept responsibility for what she did to my son, my family, my country, my world,” Allison Jean said in a phone interview Tuesday from her home in St. Lucia.
Guyger’s lawyer, Michael Mowla, argued before the three-judge appeals court that Guyger’s mistaken belief she was in her own apartment negates “evil intent” to kill. A conviction of criminally negligent homicide, he argued, would be more appropriate.
“Mr. Mowla, you’re overlooking the fact that Miss Guyger testified that she intentionally shot Mr Jean,” Chief Justice Robert D. Burns III told the attorney. Burns at one point suggested that Guyger’s conviction was in fact supported by the legal precedent raised by the defense.
“I’m not overlooking the fact, your honor. I agree,” Mowla responded during the Zoom hearing. “She did intentionally shoot Mr. Jean because that was her intent. That was the truth. Those were the facts of the case. If she had walked into her apartment, and there was an intruder inside her apartment …. she would have been entitled to use deadly force in self-defense.”
In the appeal, Guyger’s lawyers said that “her mistaken belief negated the culpability for murder because although she intentionally and knowingly caused Jean’s death, 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.”
“Intentionally or knowingly killing another human is an evil act,” Mowla argued Tuesday. “And that’s what she was convicted of. The problem is that when she entered what she thought was her own apartment, she did not have evil intent.”
The state, represented by Dallas County Assistant District Attorney Douglas Gladden, argued that mistaken belief and mistake of fact is not a justifiable defense.
“This is a murder case, not a criminal trespass case. When Amber Guyger shot Botham Jean, she didn’t take someone else’s property. She took the life of a human being,” Gladden told the appeals…