[guest post by JVW]
Yesterday afternoon a Dallas jury reached a guilty verdict in the charge of murder for ex-Dallas Police Department officer Amber Guyger. Returning home from duty on evening thirteen months ago, Ms. Guyger shot and killed Botham Jean, an accountant who was an immigrant from St. Lucia, whom she believed had broken into her apartment. Tragically, Ms. Guyger was entirely mistaken and had wandered into Mr. Botham’s apartment, located one floor above hers. Panicking, Ms. Guyger had called the police and her partner (with whom she had been having a clandestine affair) rather than rendering aid to the fallen victim, who died shortly after other officers arrived on the scene.
The trial, featuring a black victim and a white defendant, was in front of a predominantly female and minority jury. Ms. Guyger’s defense focused on how common it was for those apartment tenants to access the wrong floor from their parking garage, and argued that Mr. Botham had risen from his couch in a threatening manner which had caused Ms. Guyger to believe her life could be in danger. Ironically, the defense invoked the Castle Doctrine by asserting that it did not matter that it was not in fact Ms. Guyger’s apartment, the very fact that she believed it was her apartment was justification for her to defend herself.
Earlier this afternoon, the same jury sentenced Ms. Guyger to ten years incarceration. It is expected that she will serve five years before being paroled. The sentencing, which took the jury only an hour to determine (deliberations on the verdict had taken four hours), followed the usual victim impact statements and the guilty party’s opportunity to address the court.
The most poignant moment came when Brandt Jean, the younger brother of Botham Jean, made his statement. Speaking quietly and slowly, he told Ms. Guyger that he forgave her and loved her, and expressed hope that she would turn her life to the Lord and pray for salvation. At the end of the statement, he stunned the court by making an unusual request. Watch below (fast forward to 2:50 if you don’t want to watch the whole thing, but it’s worth spending the entire four minutes):
In a world of Trumps and Schiffs, we need more Brandt Jeans.