The case came to a close with an emotional two-day sentencing hearing that included testimony from both the Guyger and Jean families. The jury deliberated for less than 90 minutes before determining Guyger’s sentence, which begins immediately. She’ll be eligible for parole in five years.
Jean’s little brother, Brandt, gave a gut-wrenching victim statement after the sentencing, telling Guyger he forgives her and “wants the best” for her. He then got Judge Tammy Kemp’s permission to give her a hug.
“I don’t even want you to go to jail. I want the best for you, because I know that’s exactly what Botham would want,” the 18-year-old said in court.
At one point, Kemp also gave hugs to Jean’s relatives and Guyger—offering both parties words of encouragement.
POWERFUL MOMENT: The brother of Botham Jean says he forgives and loves Amber Guyger, then gives her a hug. Wow. @FOX43,4325:35 PM – Oct 2, 2019 · Irving, TXTwitter Ads info and privacy1,426 people are talking about this
Dozens of people expressed outrage over the sentence outside of the courtroom, with some shouting “justice was not served.”
“Why give her a murder conviction and then only give her 10 years? That’s a slap in the face,” one protester said.
During the hearing, the former cop’s mother, Karen Guyger, stunned the courtroom when she told the jury her daughter had been sexually assaulted when she was six, reiterating the defense’s argument that Guyger had experienced adversity as a child that prompted her to become a police officer.
“She wanted to take his place. She always would tell me she wishes she could’ve taken his place. She feels very bad about it,” she said through tears while holding a crumpled tissue.
The Jean family reportedly arrived at court early on Wednesday, bringing two small bottles of sparkling cider and a crate full of snacks, including water bottles with Jean’s face printed on them alongside the words, “Jesus Loves You. Celebrating the Life of Botham Jean.”
The hearing opened Tuesday with a tearful testimony from Jean’s mother, Allison, who raised her hands in elation when the verdict was read.
“My life has not been the same. It’s just been like a roller coaster,” Allison Jean said while wearing her middle son’s favorite color, red. “I cannot sleep. I cannot eat. It’s just been the most terrible time for me.”
Jean, an accountant at PricewaterhouseCoopers, was sitting on his couch eating vanilla ice cream around 10 p.m. when the five-year police veteran entered his apartment, believing it was her own. Guyger took the stand in her own defense on Friday, claiming she truly believed someone was inside her home when she arrived after a 13-hour shift.
She testified that she believed she was acting out of self-defense when she shot at him twice.
“I thought that he was coming at me. I was scared he was gonna kill me,” she said, admitting she was shooting to kill when she pulled the trigger. Her lawyers called the incident a tragic misunderstanding after the “exhausted” off-duty cop’s long shift.
But prosecutors said it was “unreasonable” for Guyger to confuse his unit with her own, and grilled her for calling 911 instead of giving Jean proper medical aid, prosecutors alleged.
“How could that happen to our son, how could we lose Botham? Such a sweet boy,” Botham’s father, Bertram Jean, told the jury on Wednesday through tears. “He tried his best to live a good, honest life. I’ll never see him again and I still want to see him.”
Dallas County prosecutors argued throughout the week-long trial Guyger was “distracted” by her affair with her married partner and missed all the signs that should’ve led her to realize she wasn’t in her own apartment. Guyger also testified she texted her married police partner right after the fatal shooting: “Hurry, I need you. I fucked up.”
Allisa Findley, Jean’s sister, told jurors Tuesday her brother’s death has had a ripple effect on their entire family, causing her once “bubbly” younger brother to live in fear of the police and become a “shell of himself.”
“I want my brother back,” she said of Botham. After the sentencing was read, Findley held her head in her hands crying while family members tried to console her.
In addition to victim testimony, prosecutors showed jurors Guyger’s text messages, saying they show her lack of sensitivity toward black people. In one January 2018 exchange while the former cop was working security during the Dallas Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade, she groaned the event could take up to three hours and suggested pepper spraying participants to get them to leave.
Jurors were also shown texts between Guyger and her married partner, Officer Martin Rivera.
“Damn I was at this area with 5 different black officers !!! Not racist but damn,” Rivera texted Guyger in March 2018, to which she quickly responded: “Not racist but just have a different way of working and it shows.”
Amber Guyger Was ‘Distracted’ by ‘Intimate’ Call With Partner Before Shooting Botham Jean: Prosecutors
“Hurry I need you. I fucked up,” Amber Guyger allegedly texted her police partner after fatally shooting Botham Jean. The 31-year-old’s murder trial began Monday in Dallas.
Former cop Amber Guyger was “distracted” by an “intimate” phone call with her partner, with whom she was having an affair, when she fatally shot her unarmed black neighbor in his Dallas apartment, Texas prosecutors alleged in court Monday.
The 31-year-old white woman is on trial for the Sept. 6, 2018, murder of 26-year-old Botham Jean. In the wake of the shooting, Guyger claimed that she had confused his apartment for her own and believed he was an intruder. The case prompted mass protests in Dallas against racial bias and excessive use of force by police. If convicted, Guyger faces up to 99 years in prison.
“Prior to that conversation Amber Guyger was able to effectively do her job,” Assistant District Attorney Jason Hermus said during his opening statements at the Frank Crowley Courts Building in Dallas Monday.
He added that the call ended a mere three minutes before Jean was fatally shot. “Amber Guyger made a series of unreasonable errors and unreasonable decisions and unreasonable choices,” Hermus alleged.
Guyger arrived in court with a security detail, passing by several protesters and Dallas faith leaders who were holding a prayer vigil outside, according to court reporters. The Botham family waited inside the courtroom all morning as the two legal teams and the judge ironed out the last pre-trial motions.
Throughout the highly anticipated two-week trial, the sequestered jury will decide whether Guyger’s actions amount to a crime or a tragic accident. While prosecutors argued that Guyger was “distracted” by her affair with her partner, missing all the signs that suggested she was in the wrong apartment, the defense claimed Monday that the off-duty cop was simply “exhausted” after a long day’s work.
“Amber Guyger reasonably believed she was in her apartment… that she had no choice but to use her gun to keep from dying,” Robert Rogers, her attorney, said in his opening statements, before slamming the prosecution for “twisting and turning innocent mistakes into evil acts.”
On Sept. 6, Guyger returned to her apartment building at about 10 p.m. after working a 13-hour shift. She’d just gotten off the phone with Martin Rivera, her police partner with whom she was in an “intimate” relationship, prosecutors alleged.
Believing she was on the third floor, the five-year veteran was allegedly so distracted by the phone call that she didn’t notice walking up to Jean’s fourth-floor apartment—despite his bright red doormat.
“Amber Guyger has no floor mat in front of her door,” Hermus said. “Botham Jean wanted his apartment to be very noticeable. In front of his front door is this extremely obvious bright red floor mat.”
When she opened the door, which was slightly ajar, Guyger noticed a “large silhouette” and believed it to be a trespasser, she told police.
Jean, an accountant at PricewaterhouseCoopers who lived alone, was inside watching TV and eating a bowl of vanilla ice-cream when he heard the door open, Hermus said. As he got up from the couch, Guyger immediately drew her gun and gave him verbal commands.
Guyger fired two shots when Jean did not respond, hitting him once in the chest, the arrest warrant affidavit said.
“The effect of this bullet is catastrophic,” Hermus said, adding the other bullet hit the back wall of his apartment.
The off-duty cop then called 911 instead of giving Jean medical aid, Hermus added. Guyger has claimed that it was not until she turned on the lights and emergency dispatchers asked for her address that she realized she was in the wrong apartment unit.
“I thought it was my apartment,” Guyger told dispatchers 19 times on the 911 call played in court Monday. “I thought it was my apartment. I’m fucked. Oh my God. I’m sorry.”
Prosecutors told jurors Monday that they will see Guyger’s text messages and call log from that night, to prove she had a “date” planned with Rivera that evening. Several text messages also show the two were sending “sexually explicit photos,” prosecutors said.
After the attack, she continued to text Rivera, which prosecutors believe shows the 31-year-old was also only concerned about her own well-being after the shooting.
“She should’ve made it her point of existence to take care of that man,” Hermus said, adding that while Guyger was still on the phone with emergency dispatchers, she texted Rivera: “Hurry I need you. I fucked up.”
Defense attorneys, however, argued Monday the accident was “a perfect storm of innocent circumstances,” and Guyger “firmly” believed she was in a dangerous situation inside her own apartment.
Rogers admitted that Guyger and Rivera, who is expected to testify at trial, had a “romantic relationship,” but that it never impacted her work and ended in 2017. Around the time of the incident, Guyger had taken an extra job at a downtown church, and was having difficulty sleeping and staying alert.
“I’m sweepy,” she allegedly texted Rivera before heading home, according to Rogers. The defense lawyer added there is no evidence that proves the two had plans to meet later that night, as Guyger had taken the next day off to rest.
“Everything was behind her and she went on autopilot,” Rogers said, later adding Guyger will be taking the stand in her own defense. “You’ll hear from Amber. You’ll get to know Amber.”
In December, a Dallas County grand jury indicted Guyger on one count of murder after then-Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson presented the manslaughter case. Johnson told reporters at the time the decision meant the grand jury felt the cop’s actions were “knowing” and intentional.
Botham’s mother, Allison, also filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Dallas and Guyger last October, alleging the former officer used excessive force during the incident.