Appeals Court Upholds Murder Conviction of Former Dallas Police Officer

Appeals Court Upholds Murder Conviction of Former Dallas Police Officer
Fired Dallas police officer Amber Guyger becomes emotional as she testifies in her murder trial, in Dallas on Sept. 27, 2019. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News via AP, Pool)
Zachary Stieber
An appeals court on Thursday denied an appeal by a former police officer who was convicted in 2019 of murder for shooting dead a man in his own apartment.

Former Dallas officer Amber Guyger, who is serving a 10-year prison sentence for killing Botham Jean, attempted to convince judges to acquit the murder conviction, replace it with a lesser charge, and order a new sentencing hearing.

The appeal hinged on the argument that Guyger reasonably believed she was in her own apartment, which was in the same building as Jean’s, when she fired upon him.

“Her mistaken belief negated the culpability for Murder because although she intentionally and knowingly caused Jean’s death, she had the right to act in deadly force in self-defense since her belief that deadly force was immediately necessary was reasonable under the circumstances,” Michael Mowla, Guyger’s attorney, wrote in a brief lodged in the Fifth Court of Appeals for the state of Texas.

Prosecutors said the case was simple.

“Because intentionally killing a man in his own apartment is murder, the State of Texas submits that Appellant’s conviction is just fine, and this Court should affirm it,” they said in a reply brief.

An appeals court panel sided with prosecutors, upholding the murder conviction.

“The evidence is undisputed that Guyger intended the result of her conduct or acted knowingly with respect to the result of her conduct because she testified she intended to shoot and kill Jean,” the panel wrote in the decision.

“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. 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,” they added.

The panel consisted of Justices Lana Myers and Robbie Partida-Kipness, and Chief Justice Robert Burns III.

Guyger can appeal to the state’s highest criminal court, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, if she chooses.

Her attorney did not return a voicemail or an email.