New filings in Amber Guyger murder trial reveal legal strategy

New filings in the Amber Guyger murder trial show some of what the state is trying to do as it prepares to take the former Dallas police officer to trial for the murder of Botham Jean.

Guyger shot and killed the Saint Lucia native in his own apartment in September 2018 after mistakenly thinking he was an intruder in her apartment.

A gag order in the case prevents the attorneys involved from talking. But the various motions being filed show the legal moves as they ready to argue in court

When Amber Guyger goes to trial for the murder of Botham Jean, what will play out in the courtroom is being revealed in public filings. Last week, prosecutors filed what’s called a ‘motion in limine.’

“That is a motion asking the opposing side to not mention or allude to some fact or evidence until the judge has determined whether that fact or evidence is admissible,” explained George Milner, an attorney who is not involved in the case.

There should be a lengthy witness list in the trial. Prosecutors want all written or recorded statements of potential witnesses.

“They want the witness statements prior to their cross examination,” Milner said.

Judge Tammy Kemp is being asked in the motion not to allow attorneys for Amber Guyger to mention the existence of any polygraph taken, attempted or agreed to be taken and results or conclusions or whether any plea bargain has been or could be offered by the state.

Daryl K. Washington is the Jean family civil attorney.

“The motion in limine is basically trying to prevent certain type of evidence that’s generally prejudicial being heard by the jury before there’s a ruling from the court,” Washington said.

The state is asking the judge not to allow Guyger’s defense attorneys, Robert Rogers and Toby Shook, to make mention of any prior criminal conduct or convictions of witnesses.

Attorney Russell Wilson headed up the unit in the DA's office that investigated police shootings.

“To the extent that a witness’ credibility is in question, you want to make sure that it’s attacked only within the rules of evidence,” Wilson said. “And as the defendant though, you want to use every information that you have to attack a witness.”

The motion also seeks to prevent the defense from attacking Botham Jean’s character or reputation including any specific instances of Jean's past sexual behavior.

“You wouldn't normally see that in a murder type case, but I think that ultimately this was just a matter of the prosecution trying to cover every potential base,” Wilson said. “The more information you know, the more time you have to prepare or the better you can argue that certain information would or would not be admissible. And so it’s absolutely a strategic game from the start.”

In this strategic legal matchup, the next moves are in the next motions filed by the defense. A change of venue motion is still expected to come and rulings handed down by Judge Tammy Kemp in the decisions.