Austin, TX – The highest criminal court in Texas upheld the murder conviction of former Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger on Wednesday.
The nine-member Texas Criminal Court of Appeals refused on March 30 to hear Guyger’s petition to have the justices review a lower court’s ruling that upheld her 2019 conviction for the murder of 27-year-old Botham Jean, the Dallas Morning News reported.
Court of Criminal Appeals Justices Kevin Yeary and Michelle Slaughter were the only dissents.
Attorneys for Guyger filed an appeal in August of 2020 seeking to have her murder conviction reduced and her 10-year prison sentence reconsidered.
In August of 2021, the 5th Texas Court of Appeals upheld Guyger’s murder conviction.
A panel of three state judges wrote in a 23-page opinion that Guyger’s own testimony that she intended to kill Jean when she shot him supported her murder conviction rather than criminally-negligent homicide, the Associated Press reported.
“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.”
So Guyger’s attorneys appealed the decision to the Texas Criminal Court of Appeals.
The nine-member court has final appellate jurisdiction over all criminal cases in the state, according to the Dallas Morning News.
The higher court’s refusal to review the case means that Guyger’s defense team has effectively exhausted all possible avenues of appeal for the former police officer’s conviction and sentence.
The now-30-year-old Guyger was sentenced to 10 years in prison and is serving time at the Mountain View State Prison in Gatesville, the Dallas Morning News reported.
The former police officer who fatally shot Jean when she mistook his apartment for her own will be eligible for parole in 2024.
The shooting occurred on Sept. 6, 2018 after then-Officer Guyger worked 14 hours serving warrants in high crime areas of Dallas.
The exhausted officer parked on the wrong floor of the parking garage – the 4th instead of the 3rd – and proceeded into the building, where she went to the door of the apartment she believed to be her own and used her key, KXAS reported.
The door wasn’t fully shut and opened right away.
The sound of the door opening alerted Jean, who was home alone in his apartment watching football, and he went to see what was going on at his front door.
Officer Guyger told investigators she saw the silhouette of someone in what she believed to be her own apartment, and drew her firearm because she thought she was being robbed.
She gave verbal commands that were ignored by Jean and then shot him twice.
The arrest affidavit said it wasn’t until Officer Guyger was already on the phone with 911 that she reached to turn on the lights and she realized she was not in her own apartment.
Guyger’s defense attorneys argued in their appeal that while she did knowingly shoot to kill, the then-police officer was acting out of a belief that her life was in danger and she was entitled to use deadly force against the apparent danger, KXAS reported.
The sentence for criminally-negligent homicide is 180 days to two years in jail and Guyger’s attorneys had asked that she be resentenced on the lesser charges.