Judge reads off sentence handed down to Amber Guyger
Judge Tammy Kemp reads off the sentence handed down by the jury to Amber Guyger after she was found guilty of murder for fatally shooting Botham Jean.
A former Dallas police officer was sentenced Wednesday to 10 years in prison for killing an unarmed man in his apartment, which she said she mistook for her own unit one floor below.
As people outside of the courtroom reacted angrily to the 10-year sentence given to Amber Guyger for killing Botham Jean in his apartment, believing it was too lenient, his brother was allowed to address her directly from the witness stand.
Brandt Jean told Guyger that he thinks his brother would have wanted her to turn her life over to Christ, and that if she can ask God for forgiveness, she will get it.
“I love you as a person. I don’t wish anything bad on you,” he said to the 31-year-old Guyger, before adding, “I don’t know if this is possible, but can I give her a hug?”
The judge said he could, and Brandt and Guyger stood up, met in front of the bench and embraced while Guyger cried.
The jury could have sentenced the former officer to up to life in prison or as little as two years, but prosecutors asked the jury to send her to prison for 28 years, which is how old Botham Jean would have been if he was still alive.
The 10-year sentence was met with boos and jeers by the crowd outside of the packed courtroom, with one woman saying, “It’s a slap in the face.”
Closing arguments in the punishment phase took place Wednesday afternoon and wrapped up just after 2:30 p.m.
Guyger, a former Dallas police officer, was convicted of murder on Tuesday. She testified she mistook Jean’s apartment for her own and thought he was a burglar.
Defense attorney Toby Shook said “every murder is different” and urged the jury to give a shorter prison sentence.
He said the prosecution was trying to paint Guyger as a racist with her texts sent during a Martin Luther King, Jr. parade.
“I’ll ask you to look at her whole life,” Shook said, asking them to not be focused on texts.
He recapped stories about Guyger reaching out to a drug addict and her friendship with a co-worker at a restaurant. That co-worker told a story about her going out of her way to help her when she had a baby.
Shook asked jurors not to bring in feelings about injustice from other police shootings, where officers weren’t punished for killing people.
Prosecutor Mischeka Nicholson went back over the text messages from the parade and the pro-police memes Guyger posted on social media. She said they speak to Guyger’s character and should be taken into consideration by the jury.
She asked the jury to not be intimated by the wide range of punishment for murder in the state of Texas, five to 99 years. She said that this case is not meant for a minimum sentence.
“This is not a five-year, 10-year, 15-year case,” Nicholson said.
Prosecutors said Jean’s family will never be the same and Botham was a beloved family member and friend to many people.
They said the way he died means “sudden passion” shouldn’t be a consideration.
“Botham didn’t provoke his own death,” prosecutor LaQuita Long said.
She showed a slide that said, “To the defendant he was just a silhouette in a room. To EVERYONE who knew Bo, he was the brightest light in the room.”
Long said the jury should return a sentence of at least 28 years, the age Jean would’ve been.
On Wednesday, Bertrum Jean broke down on the stand while talking about his son and their close-knit family.
He said after Jean moved away from their home in the Carribean island nation of St. Lucia to go to college, he would call home every Sunday after church to catch up.
“How could we have lost Botham? Such a sweet boy. He tried his best to live a good honest life. He loved God. He loved everyone. How could this happen to him?” he said.
Alexis Stossel, Jean’s classmate and one of his best friends from Harding University, teared up as she spoke about him being a natural leader who everyone seemed to gravitate toward.
Stossel said she didn’t see Jean’s last text to her until after she got a phone call about his death. She said she dropped to the floor and started screaming. She called him seven times and got no answer.
“I can’t imagine living life without my other person,” she said.
After the state rested, the defense called Guyger’s mother to the stand. She also broke down on the stand, saying her daughter feels remorse.
“She’s always telling me she wishes she could take his place. She feels very bad about it,” Karen Guyger said.
Alana Guyger revealed that her sister was molested by their mother’s boyfriend at a young age. Guyger’s attorneys were trying to show the jury she had remorse for what happened.
That’s after prosecutors spent Tuesday afternoon showing jurors racially biased and vulgar text messages and social media posts from Guyger. Prosecutors also talked about a time when Guyger was sent to internal affairs after a prisoner got away and she didn’t report it to her supervisor.
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