A Texas appeals court upheld the murder conviction of Amber Guyger, the former Dallas police officer who was sentenced to prison for fatally shooting her neighbor Botham Jean in his home.
A panel of three state judges ruled that a Dallas County jury had sufficient evidence to convict Amber Guyger of murder in the 2018 shooting, CBS News reports.
This means Guyger, who will turn 33 on Monday, will continue to serve her 10-year prison sentence. Guyger will become eligible for parole in 2024, under her current sentence.
Guyger’s appeal was based on the claim that her mistaking Jean’s apartment for her own was reasonable, and so the shooting was, as well.
Her lawyer asked the appeals court to acquit her of murder or change her conviction to a lesser charge of criminally negligent homicide.
Guyger claimed after returning home from a long shift, she mistook Jean’s apartment for her own, which was on the floor directly below his. Finding the door ajar, she entered and shot him, claiming that she thought he was a burglar.
Jean, a 26-year-old accountant, was eating a bowl of ice cream before Guyger busted in and shot him. She was later fired from the Dallas Police Department.
Dallas County prosecutors argued that the error wasn’t reasonable, that Guyger acknowledged intending to kill Jean and that “murder is a result-oriented offense.”
The court’s chief justice, Robert D. Burns III, and Justices Lana Myers and Robbie Partida-Kipness agreed with prosecutors that Guyger’s belief that deadly force was needed was indeed not reasonable.
In a 23-page opinion, the justices disagreed with Guyger’s team that evidence supported a conviction of criminally negligent homicide rather than murder, and they used Guyger’s own testimony to show that she intended to kill.
“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.”
Defense attorneys could still ask the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals – the state’s highest forum for criminal cases – to review this new ruling.