The prosecution rested its case on Day 4 of the murder trial of former Dallas cop Amber Guyger by contrasting her spotless uniform with her claim that she had tried to aid Botham Jean as he lay dying after she mistakenly shot him.
The defense will begin presenting its case Friday morning, focusing on how crime scene elements show where Jean was located in relation to Guyger, and thus seeking to convey how threatened she felt when she pulled the trigger.
The location of Jean’s body, his shoes and other crime scene elements are crucial in determining, from the defense’s point of view, that Guyger, 31, had legitimate reason to feel threatened when she shot her upstairs neighbor in his living room, thinking it was hers and that he was an intruder.
Testimony so far has centered on the visual cues Guyger missed when she parked on the floor above her apartment and went through the wrong door. The prosecution has sought to show that she would have had ample warning that she was not in the right place if she had not been distracted by texts from her squad partner, who had also at one point been her lover.
But investigators also found that her mistaking the wrong floor for her own occurred routinely among most of the other complex’s residents. They also said that Jean’s door did not latch properly, so Guyger was able to enter Jean’s apartment with her key.
What the prosecution has called distraction, the defense calls fatigue. Guyger had just worked 40 hours in four days, the last 13 of them that day.
Guyger’s assertion that she had tried to aid Jean after realizing her mistake was belied by the spotlessness of her uniform, lead prosecutor Jason Hermus told the court. The officers who performed CPR were covered in blood, since the bullet had torn apart his heart, among other internal organs.
Moreover, photos of the crime scene showed Guyger in the building hallway, texting, while others performed CPR inside.
Guyger’s arsenal included nonlethal weapons, such as a Taser and pepper spray, the prosecution said, according to The Dallas Morning News. Another witness had testified that the correct protocol in such a situation is to hide and/or run — “conceal and cover” — if there’s a chance to get away.
The defense will aim to show that Guyger did not have that option, and that she had made a “tragic but innocent” mistake when she shot Jean, a 26-year-old accountant, as he sat on his sofa eating ice cream and watching football, the Morning News said.
Before court adjourned, the defense asked for a direct verdict of not guilty on the murder charge, on grounds that Guyger had not knowingly and intentionally caused Jean’s death, reported KXAS-TV, which has been posting real-time updates daily. Defense also requested a direct verdict on the manslaughter and criminal negligence charges if state District Judge Tammy Kemp were to grant the direct verdict on the murder charge — in all cases saying the state had not proven Guyger’s intent and lack of attention.
But Kemp refused, adjourning court in the mid afternoon until Friday at 8:30 a.m., when the defense will begin presenting its case. On Wednesday she had kept the jury away from testimony by the lead investigator, a Texas Ranger, who said he did not think a crime had been committed.