Dallas, TX – The jury on Tuesday morning found former Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger guilty of murder for shooting her neighbor in what she mistakenly believed was her own apartment.
Both the prosecution and the defense made closing arguments on Monday morning and then Dallas County District Court Judge Tammy Kemp sent the jury to lunch before beginning deliberations.
But before beginning closing arguments, Kemp gave several instructions to the jury, including telling them they had the option of weighing whether they believed the 31-year-old former police officer had committed murder or manslaughter when she shot 27-year-old Botham Jean believing he had broken into her apartment, ABC News reported.
She also ruled that jurors could consider a “Castle Doctrine” defense, similar to so-called “stand your ground” laws that allow a person to use deadly force to protect themselves and their belongings in their home, KTVT reported.
Dallas County Assistant District attorney Jason Fine called Guyger’s assertion that she had shot Jean in self-defense “crazy.”
Fine pointed to the former officer’s testimony that she would never want anyone to go through what she went through the night she mistakenly shot her neighbor and said that Guyger had made the trial all about herself, ABC News reported.
He called it “absurd” for her to claim Castle Doctrine as a defense.
“I mean, my God. This is crazy. It was unreasonable – she should’ve known she was in the wrong apartment,” Fine told the jury, according to ABC News.
Guyger’s attorneys argued that the prosecution had failed “to prove beyond a reasonable doubt” that the former police officer was guilty of murder.
Attorney Toby Shook told the jury that Guyger’s “horrible, horrible mistake” didn’t rise to the level of murder or even manslaughter, ABC News reported.
“You can hate her, but you can’t convict her” based on those feelings, Shook said.
Officer Guyger was initially arrested on a manslaughter charge on Sept. 9, three days after she fatally shot Jean in his apartment.
A grand jury later indicted her for murder. A murder conviction could put Guyger behind bars for life, whereas manslaughter would have carried a maximum penalty of 20 years, the Dallas Morning News reported.
After having worked 14 hours serving warrants in high crime areas of the city, the exhausted officer parked on the wrong floor of the parking garage adjacent to her apartment building, WCAU reported.
The arrest affidavit said the garage levels correspond with the floors in the apartment complex. Officer Guyger lives on the 3rd Floor of the Southside Flats apartment complex and should have parked on the 3rd floor where her apartment was.
But the off-duty officer parked on the 4th floor of the parking garage and proceeded into the building, where she went to the door of the apartment she believed to be her own and used her key.
The door wasn’t fully shut and opened right away.
The sound of the door opening alerted Jean, who was home alone in his apartment watching football.
The affidavit said Jean went to see what was going on at his front door.
Officer Guyger told investigators she saw the silhouette of someone in what she believed to be her own apartment, and drew her firearm, WCAU reported. The affidavit said she believed she was being robbed.
She gave verbal commands that were ignored by Jean, according to the affidavit. Then she fired her weapon in the dark at the person twice, striking him once.
The arrest affidavit said it wasn’t until Officer Guyger was already on the phone with 911, that she reached to turn on the lights and she realized she was not in her own apartment.
She went into the hall and checked the address on the door and confirmed for the dispatchers that she was in unit 1478, one floor above her own apartment, WCAU reported.
Jean was transported to Baylor Medical Center in Dallas where he later died.
Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall announced that Guyger had been fired from the police force on Sept. 24, but not for the shooting.