What now-fired Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger saw and how she saw it the night she shot and killed Botham Jean in his own South Side Flats apartment after mistaking him for an intruder will be a big part of her September murder trial.
When lawyers are gagged from talking, their public filings tell the story and show how the case will play out at trial.
First, Judge Tammy Kemp has to rule on the defense request to move the trial somewhere else. Former district attorney Faith Johnson will very likely have to take the witness stand.
As Amber Guyger's defense team plans to argue for a change of venue, Johnson has been subpoenaed to testify. She has told the court she is scheduled to be out of the country when that hearing is planned to start on August 19 and has asked if required to testify that it be done either before or after the scheduled change of venue hearing.
Former judge David Finn is not part of Guyger's defense.
“I think Mr. Rogers and Mr. Shook do want to question her under oath in front of the judge,” Finn said. “Live testimony is always better than a transcript, so I anticipate she will testify at some point in time.”
The state's expert witness list is in the public record. It has 25 names, including a handful from outside Texas with unique expertise that gives some clues to what prosecutors may have we have not been privy to. The state is bringing in forensic video analysts.
“That would indicate to me that the prosecution has a video or videos that they want to play for the jury,” Finn said. “And they want an expert to come in and say, ‘This is the real deal. It hasn’t been altered.’”
A company called Cellebrite is on the expert witness list. It’s a company known for unlocking cellphone data.
“Law enforcement uses Cellebrite a lot,” Finn said. “They're the experts in this area.”
The list also includes several crime scene reconstruction experts, especially those versed in officer-involved shootings.
“In a jury trial like this where there are only two witnesses and one of them is deceased, you’re gonna rely on experts to reconstruct the crime scene,” Finn said.
Because of that, Finn feels this trial will be a battle of the experts.
“The state’s gonna have crime scene reconstruction experts that are gonna say one thing,” he said. “Mr. Shook and the defense will have experts to say, ‘Not so fast. There’s another side to this coin.’ So you’re gonna have the jury giving conflicting information as experts.”
The experts will be tasked with making the complex, simple and the technical, general for a jury to comprehend.
“I would want to make the scene crystal clear to the jury. Almost reconstructing Mr. Jean's apartment in that courtroom,” Finn said.
Little glimpses of the big picture that won't come into focus until the trial in late September
If Judge Tammy Kemp decides, former DA Faith Johnson could testify as early as next week.