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Four Things to Know About Amber Guyger and Her Murder Trial

The murder trial for white ex-Dallas cop Amber Guyger begins Monday in the death of Black PwC associate Botham Jean.

Guyger is accused of walking into Jean’s apartment, allegedly thinking it was her own, and fatally shooting him.

Guyger has said she thought Jean was an intruder when she fired on Sept. 6, 2018.  

Botham Jean
Amber Guyger and Botham Jean. (Photos: mugshot via Kaufman County Jail, Instagram)

Here are four facts you may not know about the Guyger and her murder case:

What is the Castle Doctrine, and why is it important?

Ultimately this case is going to turn on the Castle Doctrine, Jean’s family lawyer, Lee Merritt, said.

He explained the doctrine is basically Texas’ version of Florida’s “stand your ground” law, a defense which shooter George Zimmerman considered employing — but ultimately did not use — in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin Feb. 26, 2012, in Sanford.

The doctrine is a set of laws that gives individuals the right to protect their property.

“If there’s an intruder in your home and you want to blow them away, go for it,” Merritt said of the law’s legal protection. “Of course, Ms. Guyger was not in her home, so she should not be afforded the benefit of the Castle documents.”

More than 4,000 jury summons sent

When the jury selection began Sept. 6, exactly one year after Jean’s death, the jury coordinator confirmed to multiple media outlets that more than 4,000 jury summons were sent out for the hearing.

Of the 4,000 potential jurors summoned, 806 people showed up and 410 were administered a questionnaire, NBC DFW reported.

9 cases dropped when Guyger charged with murder

When Guyger was charged with murder, prosecutors dismissed at least nine cases that she investigated, according to court records NBC DFW obtained.

One county prosecutor asked that their case be dismissed because Guyger had been accused of “murdering an innocent man in his own home,” The Dallas Morning News reported.

Four of the dismissed cases involved Guyger and another officer apprehending two men during a January 2018 traffic stop, and most of the dismissed cases involved drug charges.

Judge reprimanded the press for publicizing sensitive information

State District Judge Tammy Kemp, a Black woman, began one June hearing in the case by asking attorneys if they’d figured out who violated her gag order and leaked Guyger’s 911 call to a local television station, NBC DFW reported.

“I’m very thankful for an aggressive press, I think they serve a great service in some areas,” Kemp said. “But you do a disservice when you provide information to the general public that should be heard by the members of a jury and members of the jury alone in helping them make up their decisions.

“I’m going to ask the media, should you be contacted by someone who doesn’t have the integrity or the fortitude to abide by the law, to decline to publish any information that they might be providing to you.”

Kemp went on to ask the media to refrain from publishing leaked information, especially considering many have asked to broadcast the trial, according to NBC DFW.

“I don’t want to interfere in the media’s abilities to inform the public, but if we continue to have leaks, when this trial is had, the media will cover this trial with paper and pen, and paper and pen alone, because Miss Guyger has a right to have a fair trial,” Kemp said.

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