Amber Guyger, the former Texas cop who killed a man she mistakenly thought had broken into her apartment, has appealed her murder conviction.
Guyger fatally shot Botham Jean, a 26-year-old accountant, in September 2018 as he sat in his apartment eating a bowl of ice cream. Guyger, who lived in the apartment directly below Jean, told authorities that she thought that she was in her own apartment and that Jean was an intruder; she was found guilty of murder and sentenced in October 2019 to 10 years in prison.
Guyger’s attorneys are now arguing that the conviction should not stand. In a recent court filing, her attorneys claimed that the evidence used to convict Guyger of murder was “legally insufficient,” and that Guyger should be acquitted of that charge and possibly charged with the lesser offense of criminally negligent homicide, CBS News reports.
The appeal argues that Guyger “simply missed” clues that she was in the wrong apartment that night, and that she acted reasonably because she believed that she was in a deadly situation.
“Her mistaken belief negated the culpability for 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 was reasonable under the circumstances,” court documents read, according to the outlet.
During the trial, defense attorneys argued that Guyger was within her rights to shoot Jean due to the "castle doctrine," a type of 'stand your ground" law in Texas stating that individuals are justified in using deadly force to protect themselves and/or their property, according to the Texas State Law Library. However, prosecutors argued that such laws did not apply to Guyger, who was not in her own home at the time of the shooting.
They argued that she could have called for backup if she felt that she was in danger; she was also criticized for using deadly force when she was armed with pepper spray and a taser as well, according to CNN.
Guyger’s previous statements regarding black people also became a central topic during her trial, with prosecutors sharing text messages in which Guyger suggested that violence and pepper spray could be used on people participating in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade to make them go home, the Associated Press reports.
Taking the stand during her trial, Guyger expressed remorse for her actions, telling the jury, “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.”
After Guyger's conviction, a lawyer for the Jean family called the decision “a victory for Black people in America,” the Associated Press reports.
In response to news of Guyger filing an appeal, the Jean family, via their attorney, suggested that the move signifies a lack of true remorse, CNN reports.
“After admitting her crime and asking Botham Jean's family for mercy — Guyger's actions in filing this appeal reflect someone who is not repentant but instead was hoping to play on the families sympathies at the time that they were most vulnerable,” the family’s attorney, S. Lee Merritt, said in a statement.
Guyger’s attorneys are asking for a new sentencing hearing for the lesser charge of criminally negligent homicide, according to the Associated Press. If convicted, she would face a maximum sentence of two years behind bars.
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