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Ex-Cop Who Fatally Shot Her Neighbor Loses Her Appeal

Amber Guyger could still ask the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to review the case
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 6, 2021 12:05 AM CDT
Ex-Cop Who Killed Her Neighbor Loses Her Appeal
In this Sept. 27, 2019, file photo, fired Dallas police officer Amber Guyger becomes emotional as she testifies in her murder trial in Dallas.   (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News via AP, Pool, File)

(Newser) – A Texas appeals court on Thursday upheld the murder conviction of a former Dallas police officer who was sentenced to prison for fatally shooting her neighbor in his home, the AP reports. A panel of three state judges ruled that a Dallas County jury had sufficient evidence to convict Amber Guyger of murder in the 2018 shooting of Botham Jean. The decision by the 5th Texas Court of Appeals in Dallas means Guyger, who turns 33 on Monday, will continue to serve her 10-year prison sentence and largely dashes her hopes of having the 2019 conviction overturned. She will become eligible for parole in 2024 under her current sentence. The appeals court justices did not dispute the basic facts of the case. Guyger, returning home from a long shift, mistook Jean’s apartment for her own, which was on the floor directly below his. Finding the door ajar, she entered and shot him, later testifying that she thought he was a burglar. Jean, a 26-year-old accountant, had been eating a bowl of ice cream before Guyger shot him.

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She was later fired from the Dallas Police Department. Guyger's appeal hung on the claim that her mistaking Jean’s apartment for her own was reasonable, and therefore, so too was the shooting. Her lawyer asked the appeals court to acquit her of murder or substitute in a conviction for criminally negligent homicide, which carries a lesser sentence. Dallas County prosecutors countered that the error was not reasonable, that Guyger acknowledged intending to kill Jean and that "murder is a result-oriented offense." "That she was mistaken as to Jean’s status as a resident in his own apartment or a burglar in hers does not change her mental state from intentional or knowing to criminally negligent," the judges wrote. "We decline to rely on Guyger’s misperception of the circumstances leading to her mistaken beliefs as a basis to reform the jury’s verdict in light of the direct evidence of her intent to kill."

(Read more Amber Guyger stories.)

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