An attorney for former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger, who was convicted of murder in the shooting of a man in his own home, has filed paperwork to preserve Guyger’s right to appeal her conviction and sentencing.
Guyger’s attorney Michael Mowla on Oct. 16 filed a notice of appeal to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals following her 10-year sentence earlier this month.
A notice of appeal is the first step required in an appeals process and does not necessarily specify the grounds for an appeal.
Guyger’s lead trial lawyer, Robert Rogers, said the move is a requirement in following Texas law, according to court documents obtained by CNN.
“You have 30 days by statute to file a notice or intent to appeal, so the lawyer that’s handling the appeal filed that just to preserve the right,” Rogers said. “You have to do that.”
Rogers added it could be “months” before it is known whether the 31-year-old former police officer will proceed with an appeal.
Pete Schulte, an attorney who is not directly involved in Guyger’s case, wrote on Twitter on Oct. 22 that Guyger may decide against an appeal as it could result in a harsher sentence. He added the notice is most likely a “procedural move.”
#AmberGuyger Trial Update 2: Lawyers for Guyger have filed a “Notice of Appeal” of her murder conviction & 10 year prison sentence. This is mostly a procedural move, indicating that an appeal may be forthcoming. Guyger could still decide to not appeal this case. pic.twitter.com/en8AvPqMfd
— Lawyer Pete Schulte (@AttyPeteSchulte) October 22, 2019
“That’s the big risk for her to appeal this case,” he wrote. “If the court of appeals sends the case back for a new trial, and she gets convicted again of murder, she could get sentenced anywhere from 5-99 years. Many defendants would decide against appeal because of that risk.”
On Oct. 1, Guyger was convicted by a Texas jury and sentenced to 10 years in prison in the 2018 fatal shooting of Botham Jean, 26. She shot him in his own home after she mistook his apartment for her own and believed he was a burglar. Guyger lived in an apartment one floor below Jean’s unit.
A 12-member jury rejected her lawyers’ self-defense claims.
Prosecutors said that the self-defense claims don’t apply in this case because Jean wasn’t a threat, reported The Dallas Morning News. They said that she acted unreasonably by failing to notice she wasn’t in her own apartment.
Dallas County Assistant District Attorney Jason Fine earlier this month asked jurors to reject Guyger’s “crazy” statement that she shot him in self-defense. “Are you kidding me? That is garbage,” Fine said, according to ABC. “Most of what she said was garbage. Ninty-nine percent of this trial has been about the defendant.”
He asked the jury to put themselves in the shoes of Guyger and Jean.
“He’s eating ice cream on his couch. So, if you’re sitting and eating ice cream you get shot in the heart? Is that what we’re saying?” Fine said. “This has to do with that defendant making unreasonable decisions that put her in that seat and Bo in the ground,” Fine said as he pointed at the defendant.
The former officer said that Jean had approached her when she opened fire, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.
She said she also couldn’t see his hands and wasn’t sure if he was armed. Guyger added that she was afraid he was going to kill her.
According to CNN, after the shooting Guyger texted her partner on the police force.
“I need you … hurry,” she wrote, adding that “I [expletive] up,” CNN reported.
Prosecutors also argued that she didn’t render aid or perform CPR, but Guyger said that she performed first aid on Jean.
Guyger is serving her sentence at the Mountain View prison in Gatesville, Texas and is eligible for parole on Sept. 29, 2024.
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.