A former Dallas cop who shot and killed her neighbor after she said she had mistakenly entered his apartment had been sexting with her police partner moments before the shooting and was distracted, prosecutors say.
Amber Guyger is facing charges of murder after she went into the wrong apartment on Sept. 6, 2018 and fatally shot its occupant, 26-year-old Botham Jean.
Prosecutors contend Guyger missed obvious signs that she was entering the wrong apartment—including a bright red doormat outside Botham’s door—because she had been sexting her police partner just before the fatal shooting, local station KDFW reports.
Her defense team argued Monday during the first day of trial that the shooting was just a tragic mistake after an overtired Guyger had mistakenly parked on the wrong floor of the parking garage, leading her to believe she was entering her own apartment that night.
Lead prosecutor Jason Hermus told jurors that hours before the shooting, Guyger had been texting her former partner and one-time lover Martin Rivera.
“Super horny today too,” she allegedly texted Rivera.
“Me too,” he sent back.
Then at 9:30 p.m., just after she had finished working a 13-and-a-half-hour shift, she sent him a Snapchat message that said, “Wanna touch?”, NBC News reports.
The two were on the phone together for 16 minutes as Guyger made her way from the police station to the parking garage at her apartment. The call ended at 9:55 p.m. just minutes before the shooting, according to The Dallas Morning News.
At 10:02 p.m., Hermus said she texted her partner “I need you. Hurry.”
Then just one minute later she sent another text that read “I f---ed up.”
"In the last 10 minutes of Bo's life, Amber Guyger made a series of unreasonable errors and unreasonable decisions and unreasonable choices," Hermus told the jury, according to KDFW.
Shortly after the fatal shooting, both Guyger and Rivera deleted the messages they had shared together.
On the stand, Rivera testified that he deleted the messages because it was “not something I want to be reminded of.”
“I don’t keep messages saved unless it’s of importance,” he said.
According to prosecutors, Guyger sent her final text messages to Rivera telling him that she had “f---ed up” while she was on the phone with 911, reporting the shooting.
"Should you be giving 100 percent of attention to the person dying in front of you?" Hermus asked Rivera on the stand.
"Yes, you should," he replied.
Hermus argued that throughout her walk from the parking garage to Jean’s apartment there were several striking clues that she was not on the correct floor. Not only did all the apartment numbers start with a “4” but Jean had a large, red welcome mat outside his door, while she had no mat. Inside the apartment, the furniture was also different and Jean’s apartment had been cluttered while her own was neat, the local paper reports.
“For her errors, for her omissions, ... [Jean] paid the ultimate price,” Hermus said.
However, defense attorney Robert Rogers argued that while the shooting had been “awful” and “tragic,” it had also been an “innocent mistake.”
He said Guyger had reasonably believed she had entered her own apartment and had encountered an intruder.
According to him, she had been on “auto-pilot” and was focused on getting home.
Rogers also downplayed the relationship between Guyger and Rivera, calling prosecutors' contention that she had been distracted by sexting “preposterous.” Although he said they flirted “all the time,” he told jurors they hadn’t had a sexual encounter in months and were not planning to meet that night.
Rivera also testified that they were no longer intimate and had no plans to meet the night of the shooting, adding that he had never been to her apartment.
Rogers told jurors that Guyger was able to enter the apartment because it was unlocked—and when she went in she discovered Jean, who had been sitting on his couch eating ice cream and watching football moments before the intrusion.
“She’s trying to process this as she’s stepping into her apartment, and at the same time, I’m sure Mr. Jean is thinking, ‘What is this person doing? Who is coming into my apartment?’ ” Rogers said. "He’s confused. He’s wondering what’s going on. She’s thinking, ‘Why is this man in my apartment?’”
He said she reacted as any police officer would when confronted with who they believe to be a burglar; however, Guyger’s supervisor also took the stand to say that she could have implemented a tactical retreat and walked away from the door if she believed her life was in danger.
Guyger could face life in prison if convicted. The trial is expected to last several weeks.
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