DALLAS - International attention will focus in on the Dallas Frank Crowley Courthouse on Monday when former Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger goes on trial for the murder of Botham Jean, a Saint Lucia native.
No one is denying Amber Guyger shot and killed what she perceived to be a threat. The question is what she did considered murder or self-defense?
Cell phone video captured off-duty in uniform Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger pacing on the balcony of Southside Flats Apartments after shooting and killing Botham Jean on Sept. 6, 2018.
Guyger told police she went to the wrong apartment, which was Jean's apartment on the fourth floor. Thinking she was at her third-floor apartment and that Jean was an intruder, she fatally shot him.
Former prosecutor Russell Wilson is in private practice as a criminal defense attorney. He is not involved in the case.
“I think the critical thing is gonna be the time period between Amber Guyger getting out of her vehicle and making the 911 phone call,” he said.
Brad Lollar works in the Dallas County public defender's office. He is not involved in the case either.
“The question is why and under what circumstances and how did she come to shot Mr. Jean,” Lollar questioned.
Both Wilson and Lollar agree what happened at the door of the apartment will be critical.
“I think there's gonna be a focus on whether or not there are any threats that are actually made to her,” Wilson said. “Is it just the presence of a person alone in the apartment that can cause you to shoot them? Or would it have to be that person actually doing something? So I think that’s gonna be a big area of focus.”
Guyger was arrested on a manslaughter charge, later fired and then indicted by a grand jury on the higher charge of murder. She will enter a plea of not guilty as the trial starts. Her attorneys are likely arguing what happened was a tragic mistake of fact.
“What it basically says is if a person forms a reasonable belief and the belief, however, is mistaken, then that excuses the criminal conduct," Lollar said.
Like every other defendant, Guyger has a right not to testify. However, both Lollar and Wilson expect she will.
“It’s very likely that she would testify,” Wilson said. “In a case of this nature even though jurors are told that they are not supposed to hold it against you, a lot of times they do.”
“What she perceived at the moment is very important,” Lollar said. “And the law is gonna require that the jury, in essence, stand in the shoes of the defendant and view everything from her viewpoint.”
The trial is expected to run at least two weeks with news crews from as far away as Jean's homeland. Court TV will also broadcast the trial.
FOX 4 News will stream all the proceedings of the Amber Guyger trail on our Facebook page.