DALLAS (Reuters) – A jury began deliberations on Monday in the murder trial of an ex-Dallas police officer who shot and killed an unarmed neighbor after mistaking his apartment for her own, and prosecutors closed their case by calling her actions “unreasonable.”
“This case is about what is reasonable and what is absurd,” Assistant District Attorney Jason Fine said in a closing statement after a week-long trial.
Amber Guyger, 31, was coming off a 13-1/2 hour shift when she walked into the central Dallas apartment of Botham Jean, a 26-year-old black PwC accountant. She shot him as he ate ice cream, mistaking him for a burglar in her apartment one floor lower.
Fine tried to focus the jurors’ attention on Jean, who he said was sitting on his couch, about to enjoy a quiet night watching TV when Guyger burst into his apartment with “guns blazing.”
“Before he can even get up he is shot dead in his own home,” Fine said.
Guyger said during tearful testimony last week that she acted because at the time she had believed her life was in danger.
Prosecutors on Monday disagreed with Guyger’s self-defense argument and argued that her actions were caused by a “series of unreasonable decisions.”
Guyger faces life in prison if found guilty of murder. The jury could also find her not guilty or guilty of the lesser crime of manslaughter, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
The September 2018 shooting, one of a series of high-profile killings of unarmed black men and teens by white U.S. police officers, sparked street protests, particularly after prosecutors initially moved to charge Guyger with manslaughter, a charge for killing without malice.
Guyger’s defense attorneys insisted that the state had failed to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt and said prosecutors were trying to strike an emotional chord with the jury.
“They want you to be angry and upset because they can’t get over this burden of proof beyond reasonable doubt,” said defense lawyer Toby Shook.
Shook went over much of the evidence presented during the trial as he framed Guyger’s actions as “a series of horrible mistakes.”
(Reporting by Bruce Tomaso in Dallas, writing by Maria Caspani; Editing by Scott Malone and Cynthia Osterman)