Attorneys of Amber Guyger, the former officer who fatally shot Botham Jean, faced an appeals court in Dallas, Texas on Tuesday (April 27) and attempted to get her murder conviction tossed.
As ABC reported, attorneys of Guyger — who is currently serving a 10-year sentence in connection with Jean’s death — asked for her acquittal in the 2018 murder, noting she was acting in self-defense when she shot the late man who she believed was an intruder of her apartment. In the event that the full acquittal is not granted, defense attorney Michael Mowla asked for Guyger’s murder charge to be reduced to the lesser charge of criminally negligent homicide.
In attempt to support his request, Mowla argued that the lower court judge failed to inform the jury that Guyger only pulled the trigger because she thought Jean was in her apartment when she killed him, adding that her defensive act would have been permitted if she actually encountered an unknown person in her own home.
“I agree she did intentionally shoot Mr. Jean because that was her intent,” he said. “That was the truth. Those were the facts of the case.”
“My client, according to the facts, had a reasonable apprehension of danger when she walked into what she thought was her apartment,” he added. “If we agree that she thought she walked into her apartment, then the mistake of fact instruction applies. And then the question is, was her belief, was her apprehension of the danger, reasonable?” He proceeded to explain that intent to kill should be negated in the case due to Guyger’s belief that she was protecting herself from danger.
Prosecutor Douglas Gladden argued that Guyger’s appeal should be rejected because “mistake of fact” is not a justifiable defense, noting she intended to kill Jean when she fired her gun.
“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 three-judge panel. “She knew Botham was a living human being. She pointed a gun at him. She intended to kill him. That’s murder. It’s not mistake of fact, it’s not justified. Amber Guyger murdered Botham Jean. This court should say so and affirm the trial court’s judgment.”
Jean was fatally shot in 2018 at the hands of Guyger. The former cop allegedly thought she was protecting herself from a trespasser in her apartment, but she ended up in Jean’s home, which was directly one floor above her humble abode. She was found guilty of murder and sentenced to a decade in prison — a verdict Jean’s family believes “should not be overturned.”
Chief Justice Robert Burns, however, will issue the court’s opinion at a later date.