The former Dallas police officer, Amber Guyger, has been found guilty of the murder of Botham Jean and could be sentenced up to 99 years in prison.
The case began after Guyger walked into what she thought was her apartment and killed Jean by shooting him in the chest, only to find out later that it wasn’t her apartment at all. According to Guyger, she was exhausted after a long day of work and had mistakenly parked on the wrong floor of her apartment building which is unnumbered.
According to ABC News, the jury was tasked to find whether or not Guyger was guilty of manslaughter or murder. The jury decided on the latter:
The Dallas County jury began deliberations Monday afternoon after prosecutors told them in their closing argument that Guyger made a series of “unreasonable decisions” that cost an innocent man his life. Defense attorneys countered that she made “reasonable” mistakes that led her to resort to lethal force because she believed her life was in jeopardy.
The jury came to its decision after asking for clarification on the definition of manslaughter and a clearer explanation of the Castle Doctrine, a legal protection for a homeowner who uses deadly force inside their home against an intruder.
Guyger’s defense team attempted to use the Castle Doctrine, which is similar to Florida’s “stand your ground” law, as a defense, arguing that while she was in the wrong apartment, in her mind she believed she was in her own unit, which was a floor below Jean’s. The prosecution countered that the Castle Doctrine did not apply in the case.
Arguments have already begun appearing on the internet as to whether or not Guyger should have been charged with murder, as according to testimony, there was zero premeditation and Guyger shot Jean purely out of what she thought was self-defense.
It shouldn’t be overlooked that this particular case had, as Ed Morrisey of Hot Air put it, a ton of baggage around it:
The case had a ton of baggage surrounding it — police shootings, race relations, the castle-doctrine issue, and more. The politics of those issues will likely get injected again into the sentencing of Guyger, who might get as little as five years, as noted above. Given her lack of criminal record and lack of criminal intent in this case, I’d expect the judge to go light, perhaps more in line with a manslaughter verdict. If she does, though, there will be a lot of people who will wonder whether Guyger gets mercy for being white, being a cop, or being a white cop. Those questions will not disappear with this verdict.
In fact, if Guyger does get off with a light sentence, it’s likely relations between police and the nation will worsen significantly. Hopefully, this won’t pressure the judge to use a harsher sentence than should be used, but no matter how you slice it, this likely won’t have a decent ending.