A jury has convicted former Dallas cop Amber Guyger of murder in the death of her 26-year-old neighbor Botham Jean, who was killed when Guyger entered his apartment thinking it was her own and opened fire.
Jurors deliberated for about five hours before reaching the verdict Tuesday, according to The Dallas Morning News.
An audible cry could be heard in the courtroom when the verdict was read by District Judge Tammy Kemp, according to NBC News.
Jean’s mother, Allison Jean, appeared relieved by the verdict and raised her hands in the air and said “God is good. Trust him,” as she left the court room, the local paper reports.
Jurors will now continue deliberations to determine Guyger’s sentence. In the state of Texas, murder can carry a sentence of anywhere from five years to life in prison.
Guyger, 31, killed Botham Jean on Sept. 6, 2018 after she'd returned home from working overtime and entered the wrong apartment. Her apartment was on the building’s third floor, but she went into Jean’s apartment on the fourth floor and likely surprised the 26-year-old who had been sitting on his couch eating ice cream when she burst into the apartment and fatally shot him twice in the chest.
Gugyer told jurors last week that she believed at the time that she was entering her own apartment and thought Jean was a burglar.
Her attorney argued that the death was a tragic, but innocent mistake; however, prosecutors pointed out the large number of discrepancies between the two apartments, including a large red welcome mat outside Jean’s door and different furniture and décor inside; they argued that Guyger should have noticed she was in the wrong apartment.
After closing arguments were made, jurors were tasked with determining whether Guyger had acted reasonably when she used deadly force to kill Jean and were given a choice between murder, manslaughter or an acquittal in the case.
Before the verdict was announced, jurors had sent two notes to the judge asking for clarification about the manslaughter charge and also asking for more details about the “castle doctrine,” also known as the “Stand Your Ground” law in the state, according to Jean family attorney Daryl K. Washington.
Prosecutors had argued in trial that self-defense should not apply to the case since Jean, an accountant, had posed no threat to Guyger when he was shot and killed, The Texas Tribune reports.
After the verdict was announced, attorney S. Lee Merritt, who represents the Jean family praised the verdict.
“On behalf of the family of Botham Shem Jean, thank you Dallas County for delivering the proper murder conviction of Amber Guyger,” he wrote on Twitter.
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