DALLAS — Now that former Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger has been indicted on a murder charge in the killing of Botham Jean, local attorneys are already inquisitive as to how a possible trial will look down the road.
In September, Guyger was arrested on a manslaughter charge after she told investigators that she entered Jean’s home thinking it was hers after a long shift. The two live in the same apartment complex.
Guyger went on to tell investigators that she shot Jean thinking he was an intruder. It wasn’t until after the shooting, according to Guyger, that she realized she was in the wrong apartment.
On Friday, the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office announced that a grand jury had chosen to indict Guyger on a murder charge.
Guyger, who was terminated after the shooting, turned herself over to authorities in Mesquite and later bonded out today.
So, what happens next?
Former cop and attorney Pete Schulte said he expects Guyger’s attorneys to not go after a plea deal, file for a change of venue and set the case for a jury trial.
“I would be shocked to see her attorneys go after a plea deal,” Schulte said. “This is going to trial, and Guyger will want to have her day in court.”
And Schulte thinks that Guyger’s defense could be effective enough to get an acquittal.
In the Texas Penal Code, there is a listed defense known as “Mistake of Fact.”
According to the code, “it is a defense to prosecution that the actor through mistake formed a reasonable belief about a matter of fact if his mistaken belief negated the kind of culpability required for commission of the offense.”
It continues saying, “although an actor’s mistake of fact may constitute a defense to the offense charged, he may nevertheless be convicted of any lesser included offense of which he would be guilty if the fact were as he believed.”
In simpler terms, Schulte said Guyger’s best defense is to claim that she made a mistake through facts she thought to be true at the time of Jean’s killing. In other words, a reasonable belief that Jean was an intruder.
If the jury considers Guyger's actions to be reasonable considering what she thought to be true at the time, Schulte feels there won’t be a conviction.
The odds of a conviction, he said, go down if the case is granted a change of venue. “It’s going to be hard to get a conviction in Dallas County, but even harder to get a conviction in a neighboring county that’s more conservative If they get a change of venue,” Schulte said.