In the appeal filed Aug. 4, the attorneys argued that the evidence submitted to the court does not “prove beyond reasonable doubt that Guyger committed murder.”
Her attorneys are seeking to have Guyger either fully acquitted of all charges, or acquitted of murder and charged with the lesser crime of criminally negligent homicide.
On Sept. 6, 2018, Guyger killed 26-year-old Botham Jean as the unarmed Black man sat on the couch in his apartment eating ice cream. The former officer had just returned to her apartment building at the conclusion of 13-hour shift, and says she entered Jean’s apartment accidentally. Guyger claims she believed Jean was an intruder, and fired twice, shooting him fatally in the heart.
In October 2019, Guyger was found guilty of murder and sentenced to 10 years in prison for killing Jean. Her attorneys are now appealing the decision, claiming that when Guyger was confused about what floor she was on at the time of the shooting — Jean’s apartment was on the fourth floor, directly above Guyger’s third-floor apartment — that forms this basis of appeal as stated in their brief: “Guyger formed a reasonable belief about a matter of fact—that she entered her apartment and there was an intruder inside—and (2) her mistaken belief negated the culpability for Murder because although she intentionally and knowingly caused Jean’s death, she had the right to act in deadly force in self-defense since her belief that deadly force was immediately necessary was reasonable under the circumstances.
The appeal states that Guyger “realized that she was not in her own apartment,” only after shooting Jean.
“Her mistaken belief negated the culpability for murder because although she intentionally and knowingly caused Jean’s death, she had the right to act in deadly force in self-defense since her belief that deadly force was immediately necessary was reasonable under the circumstances,” attorneys argue in the appeal.
The lawyers attribute the fact that Guyger overlooked obvious identifiers that indicated she was entering the wrong apartment to benign confusion. The key-lock to enter Jean’s apartment blinked red when Guyger attempted to open it with the incorrect fob. Because it was left slightly open, she was able to enter the apartment.
Brandt Jean, Botham’s younger brother, created a national stir for his expression of forgiveness towards Guyger after her sentencing.
“I love you just like anyone else and I’m not going to hope you rot and die,” Brandt Jean told Guyger. “I personally want the best for you. I wasn’t going to say this in front of my family, I don’t even want you to go to jail,” he said before hugging her in the courtroom.
On social media, many people expressed anger and frustration over the appeal. “I really am not surprised Amber Guyger is appealing her conviction. She really doesn’t think she did anything wrong when she MURDERED IN COLD BLOOD Botham Jean. And THIS is why I had a huge problem with them forgiving and hugging her. You cannot have forgiveness w/o repentance,” wrote one person on Twitter.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram is reporting that other Jean family members are not nearly as forgiving of Guyger as Brandt Jean:
Botham Jean’s sister, Allisa Findley, said Guyger’s appeal is disrespectful and that the court should have sentenced her to life for murdering her brother. Jean was doing nothing wrong on the day he was murdered, Findley said. Jean was sitting in his own apartment, “minding his own business,” she said.
“I feel like she received a slap on the wrist for taking my brother’s life,” Findley said.“This tells me that she feels like she didn’t do anything wrong. She did not step on my brother’s toe. She took his life.”
Botham Jean was a native of St. Lucia, an accountant, and alumnus of Harding University.
If Guyger is charged with criminally negligent homicide she will face a maximum sentence of 10 years, and be eligible for probation.