After appealing her murder conviction and sentencing, Amber Guyger and her legal team were dealt a huge blow from the highest criminal court in Texas. The Court decided to uphold a previous ruling that found her guilty of killing a Black man in his apartment in 2018.
On Wednesday, March 30, the Court of Criminal Appeals, consisting of a nine-member panel that has the final appellate jurisdiction in criminal cases, refused to hear Guyger’s lawyers’ petition to overturn a lower court’s ruling regarding the former Dallas police officer’s 2019 conviction and sentencing of 10 years in prison for the death of Botham Jean.
The decision exhausts avenues available to her to appeal her conviction and sentence, according to WFAA-TV.
It was not a unanimous ruling. Judge Kevin Yeary and Judge Michelle Slaughter filed a dissent, objecting to the ruling.
The core of the 33-year-old’s argument for the court to reconsider is that she mistook Jean’s apartment for her own and “claimed the evidence was legally insufficient to support” the verdict she received. The opposing justices believed her claims were valid.
Yeary wrote, “A person’s conduct that would otherwise constitute the crime of murder or manslaughter is not a criminal offense if the person, through mistake, formed a reasonable belief about a matter of fact and mistaken belief negated the kind of culpability required for the commission of the offense.”
The judge continued, “The Defendant is not required to prove that she made a mistake of fact. Rather, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the Defendant did not make a mistake of fact constituting a defense.”
He argued the state needed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Guyger didn’t believe she was going into her own residence. Yeary also wrote it was the state’s responsibility to prove her belief Jean was an intruder in her home was unreasonable, considering she thought she was entering her apartment.
“You must all agree that the State has proved beyond a reasonable doubt either one or two listed above. You need not agree on which of these elements the State has proved.”
The judges lifted an almost 50-year defense respected by the court called “Mistake of Fact” to support their dissenting opinion.
“This Court’s cases have made it abidingly clear since the 1974 Penal Code was enacted, that the defense of mistake of fact applies whenever a defendant’s purported mistake about a particular fact would serve to negate a culpable mental state that is essential to conviction,” Yeary argued.
“What we have never authoritatively decided—at least not in a majority opinion—is whether this is the exclusive context in which mistake of fact might be available under the language of Section 8.02(a) of the Penal Code.”
Many took to social media to weigh in on the court’s refusal to review the appeal.
Matt Winston Jr. tweeted, “I’m surprised she appealed. When she accepted the hug, she should have accepted the sentence.”
“It’s nice to see some common sense in our judicial system lately, after decades of injustice. This decision can only help us to go forward as a society,” @poppy6x10 wrote.
“Good,” KayCe tweeted. “She already got a break as it is the least they can do is uphold the little time she was giving.”
“She should be serving 25 – life like any of us would be doing if we done the same thing,” another Twitter user commented.
During the 2019 trial, Guyger testified to going into the wrong apartment. On the evening of Sept. 8, 2019, she arrived at the South Side Flats apartments, tired after a 13-hour shift, and accidentally went into Jean’s home, believing it was her own.
The confusion came after she parked on the wrong floor of the building in which she lived. Thinking she was on the third floor, she went into the building, down the hallway, and to the home, which she thought was her place.
At no point, according to prosecutor Jason Hermus, did she realize the fourth floor of the garage was an open-air space and the third floor was enclosed. She reportedly also did not pay attention to Jean’s red doormat outside of his door or to a smell of marijuana permeating the apartment or that the décor inside was different from that of her apartment.
Hermus believed had she noticed those very significant markers, Jean might still be alive.
Another identifier that could have alerted her was the fact the door was unlocked.
Upon entering the unlocked door, she unloaded two shots from her gun, striking Jean in his lower chest. She then realized she was in the wrong apartment. As the Haitian man struggled to stay alive, Guyger texted her partner and failed to administer care to the dying man.
She eventually stepped outside to get the apartment number and then called 911.
Unfortunately, Jean did not make it past the night. The next day she was charged with manslaughter. On Oct. 19, 2019, a jury convicted her of murder.
Over the last seven months, Guyger has appealed three times and lost. The ex-cop will continue to serve her 10-year confinement in the Mountain View Unit in Coryell County in Gatesville, Texas.
She is eligible for parole in 2024.