Prosecutors are counting the hundreds of potential jurors who reportedly showed up Friday on the first day of jury selection for ex-Dallas cop Amber Guyger as a good sign that the murder trial could remain in Dallas.
The jury selection date fell on the one-year anniversary of the death of Black PwC associate Botham Jean.
Guyger is accused of murdering the man after she walked into his apartment, allegedly thinking it was her own, and fatally shot Jean Sept. 6, 2018. Guyger has said she thought he was an intruder.
The case has made national media headlines prompting scrutiny from critics that characterize Guyger as a racist. The director of a storytelling initiative in Dallas even called the shooting a “form of lynching,” according to The Dallas Morning News.
In court documents, the defense team, citing that media attention and worries about obtaining an impartial jury, has asked that Guyger’s trial be moved to Collin, Ellis, Fannin, Grayson, Kaufman or Rockwall counties, while prosecutors have argued that a fair trial can happen in Dallas County.
For now, the trial is being held at the Frank Crowley Courts Building outside of downtown Dallas.
Attorneys for Jean’s family, Daryl Washington and Lee Merritt, told the newspaper that the large turnout made them hopeful an impartial jury could be found in Dallas.
“We’ve seen more people here than I’ve ever seen in a courtroom responding to jury duty,” Merritt said. “There is just a huge response. There are just lines wrapped around the courtroom and that is a promising sight for the family. They are encouraged so many people are willing to show up and do their civic duty.”
State District Judge Tammy Kemp, of the 204th Judicial District Court in Dallas, said in response to the defense’s motion to have the trial moved that she would delay her decision, according to a court document CBS DFW obtained last month.
Kemp said “no determination” will be made on moving the trial until the jury selection process is completed or “it becomes apparent” that “a fair and impartial jury cannot be selected in Dallas County due to the pervasive publicity in this case.”
Guyger would be more likely to face a whiter and more conservative jury if her trial is moved, according to The Dallas Morning News.