In murder trials, the question jurors are normally tasked with answering is whether the defendant actually killed the victim.
But in the highly controversial trial of ex-Dallas police officer Amber Guyger, jurors have a more complex question to consider.
The defense isn’t contending Guyger didn’t shoot PwC associate Botham Jean in his own apartment Sept. 6, 2018.
Instead, the jury, which began deliberations Monday, must decide if Guyger’s claim that she thought she was entering her own apartment and that Jean was an intruder was reasonable.
Attorneys on both sides presented key interpretations of how this issue should be decided as they gave closing arguments Monday.
Prosecutors asked jurors to stop thinking about how Guyger felt
Prosecutor Jason Fine began his closing arguments by reading something Guyger said during her testimony: “I never want anybody to have to go through or even imagine going through what I felt that night,” Fine said.
“Are you kidding me?” he said.
Fine was shown on live footage of the trial crumpling a piece of paper he was reading from and tossing it on the floor.
“That is garbage,” he said.
Think about how Jean felt, prosecution begged
Imagine Jean trying to relax from the day and have a “moment of peace,” Fine said.
He had a bowl of ice cream, his cell and a remote and was in front of the TV, when Guyger barged in, Fine said.
“She is an intruder into his home,” the attorney said.
She should have known where she was, the prosecution argued
Fine said Guyger should’ve noticed several key signs that proved Jean’s apartment wasn’t hers.
“The apartment sign, his red door mat, the blinking red light signaling her key wasn’t recognized, the lack of a whirring motor sound from the key and the feeling of walking from concrete onto carpet,” Fine said.
Guyger made a ‘split-second’ decision, the defense argued
“You have to look at this case coolly and calmly and decide that they’ve proven their case beyond a reasonable doubt,” defense attorney Toby Shook said.
He argued that Guyger asked to see Jean’s hands and he instead walked forward.
“He doesn’t comply,” Shook said.
He added that while the prosecution tried to present Guyger’s response as critical, the medical examiner concluded Jean died when a “bullet tore through his heart.”
CPR or the sternum rub Guyger attempted weren’t “doing any good,” Shook said.
That inclusion during trial by prosecutors was just to get “you emotionally charged up,” Shook told the jury.
He said his client did try to help Jean.
“She was desperate,” Shook said. “She wanted help to arrive.”
Texts between Guyger and her partner aren’t relevant, the defense argued
He called it “pure conjecture” that texts from the night in question between Guyger and her partner distracted her.
Guyger, who was having an affair with her partner, wasn’t excited or disappointed to learn her partner wasn’t coming over, Shook said.
He never planned to come over and had never been to her home, Shook said.
“You can hate her for sending that text. You can be angry with her,” Shook said. “You can hate her, but you can’t convict her” because no evidence connects the text messages to the decisions made in Jean’s apartment.
‘So let’s talk about reasonable,’ Shook said
When Guyger was pulling up to the fourth floor of the parking garage, thinking it was the third floor, there were no large markers indicating floor level, Shook said.
“She didn’t even know the difference between the third and fourth floor,” he said.
She got out of her SUV and approached what she thought was her apartment, the defense argued.
“The door was ajar,” Shook said.
He added that a Texas ranger testified that the door also didn’t shut for him when he was investigating in the days after the shooting.