Amber Guyger’s defense team told jurors during closing arguments Monday that prosecutors are relying on “sexting and speculation” to convince them the former Dallas police officer was unreasonable in killing a man in his own apartment.
Attorneys made closing arguments on the day after what would’ve been Botham Jean’s 28th birthday. He was killed September 6, 2018, when Guyger walked into his apartment, thinking it was hers, and opened fire on Jean in his living room.
Before closing arguments, District Judge Tammy Kemp gave the jury instructions on what constitutes murder and manslaughter. Jurors ended deliberations Monday evening and are expected to continue Tuesday morning.
A week of testimony revealed Guyger had had a sexual relationship with her partner on the force and texted him before and after the shooting, including two texts sent while she was reporting the shooting to a 911 dispatcher.
Her lawyers have said she was tired after working long hours and wasn’t paying attention to the many cues that prosecutors say should’ve tipped Guyger off that she was on the wrong floor, in the wrong apartment. Jean’s apartment was on the floor above Guyger’s.
Guyger, 31, took the stand during the trial, testifying that she hates herself and asks for forgiveness every day.
“I hate that I have to live with this every single day of my life,” she said Friday, in tears.
“I ask God for forgiveness, and I hate myself every single day. … I wish he was the one with the gun who had killed me. I never wanted to take an innocent person’s life,” she said.
Prosecutor Jason Fine seized on her testimony – specifically, her assertion that she would never want anyone to endure what she’s gone through – before attacking Guyger as an unreasonable person who decided to kill Jean before she opened his apartment door.
“Are you kidding?” Fine said Monday, crumpling up a piece of paper from which he was reading. “That is garbage. Most of what she said was garbage.”
The case isn’t about politics or supporting police, he said; it’s about whether Guyger reasonably believed Jean meant to harm her. Not only did she miss myriad signs that she was on the wrong floor, Fine said, but she missed signs that Jean posed no threat.
“Because most burglars, what they love to do, they break in without using any force at all … and then you know what they like to do? They like to plop down on your couch, have themselves some ice cream, smoke some weed and watch some TV,” Fine said, referring to testimony about Jean’s actions in the minutes before he was killed.
Stand your ground at play?
Though prosecutors objected to the defense applying castle doctrine or stand your ground laws in the case because Guyger was in Jean’s home, not the other way around, the judge allowed it, and the defense leaned on it in closing arguments.
Attorney Toby Shook asked jurors to consider the evidence from Guyger’s perspective: She thought she was at her apartment, found the door open, went inside and discovered a large man in what she thought was her living room. She felt her life was in danger, Shook said, and acted accordingly.
Guyger testified she drew her service weapon and shouted, “Let me see your hands! Let me see your hands!” The figure moved toward her in a “fast-paced walk,” and she could not see the person’s hands, she testified.
“Hey, hey, hey,” she said the person shouted, and she fired.
Shook told jurors: “The law recognizes that mistakes can be made. It’s always tragic. The law’s not perfect. It’s tragic, but you have to follow this law. … Who would not have sympathy for Botham Jean? Wonderful human being – died in these horrible, tragic circumstances. Who would not have sympathy for his family or anyone in that position? Everyone does, but that is not part of your consideration as a jury.”