Appeals court upholds murder conviction of former Dallas officer Amber Guyger

DALLAS — A former Dallas police officer convicted of fatally shooting an unarmed neighbor after mistakenly going into his apartment lost an appeal to overturn her murder conviction on Thursday.

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The Court of Appeals for the Fifth District of Texas in Dallas upheld the murder conviction of Amber Guyger, the former Dallas police officer who fatally shot Botham Jean in his own apartment on Sept. 6, 2018, The Dallas Morning News reported.

A jury convicted Guyger in 2019. In her appeal, Guyger argued that her mistaken belief that she was in her own apartment negates her culpability for murder, the newspaper reported.

Guyger had asked the court to overturn the murder conviction in favor of criminally negligent homicide, the Morning News reported. The lesser charge carries a maximum punishment of two years in prison.

Guyger was sentenced to 10 years in prison by a jury in 2019, KTVT reported. She is eligible for parole in 2024, according to prison records.

Guyger told investigators she shot Jean, 26, an accountant and church singer who lived in an apartment directly beneath hers, after seeing him in what she believed was her own home, Believing that Jean was a burglar, Guyger fired twice, striking him in the chest, according to her arrest affidavit.

Jean had been eating ice cream on his couch when Guyger arrived at his apartment. She was still wearing her police uniform, the Morning News reported.

Justices Lana Myers, Robbie Partida-Kipness and Chief Justice Robert D. Burns III disagreed with Guyger’s belief that deadly force was needed was reasonable, according to the newspaper. They also said they did not believe the evidence supported a conviction of criminally negligent homicide.

“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.”

Guyger and her attorneys will be able to file another appeal, KXAS reported. That appeal would be filed with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which is the state’s highest criminal court, the Morning News reported.