DALLAS — Amber Guyger, the former Dallas police officer sentenced to 10 years in prison last year for the 2018 shooting death of her upstairs neighbor, has filed an appeal to get her conviction overturned. They are claiming the charge should have been criminally negligent homicide instead of murder.
Guyger’s legal team hopes to have the murder conviction reduced to a felony count and then get a new punishment hearing, FOX 4 of Dallas reported.
The former officer’s defense lawyers claim Guyger was convicted on insufficient evidence and that a “rational jury” would have concluded her actions were justified, the report said.
The lesser charge would possibly mean Guyger could be released on parole, NBCDFW reported.
According to authorities, Guyger entered the Dallas apartment of neighbor Botham Jean, 26, and fatally shot him in September 2018. Guyger claimed she entered the apartment by mistake, thinking it was her own residence, and fired at Jean because she thought he had broken into the apartment.
Guyger was fired by the Dallas Police Department after the shooting, Law Officer reported.
Mike Mowla, an appellate attorney representing Guyger, claimed the charge of murder was unjustified because Guyger believed she was acting in self-defense. The former officer should have faced a charge of negligent homicide, if charged at all, Mowla said, FOX 4 reported.
In Texas, negligent homicide carries a penalty of 180 days to two years in prison if convicted, with probation possible, according to the report.
In the appeal, Guyger’s lawyers wrote:
“The evidence was legally insufficient to prove beyond a 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 of 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 [and] was reasonable under the circumstances.”
In court last October, a jury rejected the contention that Guyger’s use of deadly force was “reasonable,” as required under Texas law to have an action be considered self-defense, the Dallas Morning News reported.
Guyger’s defense team had argued that Guyger was mistaken about which apartment she entered because the layout of her floor and that of Jean’s floor were identical and he lived in the apartment directly above her.
She had also just finished a long shift at work, making fatigue a possible factor in her mistake, defense lawyers had claimed during the trial.
Of 71 tenants interviewed, 44% said they had entered the wrong apartment on the wrong floor and 23% said had gone to the wrong floor and tried to use their key to enter the wrong apartment, court documents say, according to the Morning News.
After Guyger was sentenced last year, Jean’s brother, Brandt Jean, said he forgave her for the shooting, hoped she would devote her life to Christ, then asked Judge Kemp if he could give Guyger a hug.
The judge agreed and Jean’s brother and Guyger embraced in the courtroom. Kemp also gave Guyger a hug after the proceedings.
However, the appeal does not sit well with Jean’s mother, reported NBCDFW.
“I feel furious about it,” Botham Jean’s mother Allison said in an interview from her home in St. Lucia. “It really made me question the nerve of Amber Guyger and her attorneys to even think of wanting to file an appeal.”
Jean’s mother said if the case is reconsidered, Guyger should get life in prison.
“How can you kill someone in the comfort of their home and just say, ‘I’m sorry,” Allison Jean said. “An apology and you get away with it? I mean where in the world does that happen.”