Prosecutors Play Rough in Sentencing Phase for Amber Guyger

DALLAS (CN) — Prosecutors on Tuesday aggressively attacked the character of fired Dallas cop and convicted murderer Amber Guyger during the sentencing phase of her trial, showing jurors her social media posts wishing Martin Luther King Jr. dead and joking about killing people.

Amber Guyger, right, arrives for jury selection in her murder trial at the Frank Crowley Courthouse in downtown Dallas on Sept. 13, 2019. The murder trial for Guyger, who shot and killed Botham Jean, an unarmed black man in his Dallas apartment, ended Tuesday with a conviction. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News via AP

In text messages extracted from her smartphone last year, Guyger, 31, reportedly joked “when MLK is dead … oh wait” when a co-worker working Dallas’ annual parade celebrating the civil rights leader asked when it would end.

Prosecutors showed text messages in which Guyger joked about using pepper spray against parade-watchers obstructing the path of fellow officers.

“I hate everything and everyone but you all,” Guyger allegedly texted.

Jurors took less than 24 hours to convict Guyger, 31, of murder after she erroneously entered the apartment of Botham Jean, 26, on the fourth floor of the South Side apartments near downtown Dallas on Sept. 7, 2018. She mistook Jean’s apartment for her own on the third floor, entered the ajar door before firing into the dark at what she believed was an intruder inside, striking Jean in the chest.

In another series of text messages with her police partner Martin Rivera, Guyger talked about the working habits of five black fellow officers.

“I am not racist, but damn. We have a different way of working and it shows,” Guyger texted.

Prosecutors introduced into evidence several incendiary social media posts Guyger reportedly made on Pinterest.

Guyger allegedly posted a black and white image stating, “I wear all black to remind you not to mess with me because I’m already dressed for your funeral.”

Underneath the image, Guyger allegedly wrote, “yea I got meh a gun, a shovel and gloves, if I were you I would back da fuck up.”

In another Pinterest post, Guyger allegedly posted an image of a Navy SEAL sniper with the words, “kill first, die last, one shot, one kill, no luck, all skill.”

In a third post, Guyger allegedly posted a cartoon image of a Minion from the movie Despicable Me that stated, “no one ever thanks me for having the patience not to kill them.”

Jean worked as an accountant at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Dallas. He graduated from Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, in 2016. By all accounts, he was a well-liked and deeply religious man whom neighbors often overhead singing gospel songs. Photographs of a smiling Jean with family, friends and co-workers were showed while Jean’s relatives testified.

Jean’s sister, Allisa Findley, looked down on the witness stand as prosecutors played video of Jean singing with a church choir during a religious service.

“It is hard to watch,” Findley testified. “I want my brother back. My entire family just has not been the same.”

Jean’s mother, Allison Jean, wept while testifying about how she was informed of her son’s death. She said she is unable to sleep or eat, that she sees a therapist once a week, fasts and prays to help her deal with the loss of her son.

“It has just been the most terrible time for me,” she said.

Attorneys representing the Jeans in their federal civil rights lawsuit against the city told reporters outside the courtroom the family is grateful to the Dallas community and the jury for “taking their time and getting it right.”

“This is a huge victory for Botham Jean and for all black people in America,” said attorney Lee Merritt. “This is a signal the tide is changing, that police officers will be held accountable for their actions.”

Merritt lamented the skepticism and doubt in the community that Guyger would be convicted, saying that conviction for murder should have been “automatic, anticipated and expected” but that such verdicts are “extremely rare” in reality.

City officials declined to comment on Guyger’s murder conviction Tuesday afternoon.

Before testimony began in the sentencing phase, prosecutors asked the judge outside the presence of the jury to enter as evidence Guyger’s Dallas police personnel and internal affairs files in addition to her social media records. Prosecutors also requested admission of records regarding Guyger’s earlier rejected applications with the Dallas and Fort Worth police departments, claiming she failed a polygraph test when asked about marijuana use.

Defense attorney Robert Rogers, with Lyon Gorsky in Dallas, objected to the evidence as “hearsay within hearsay,” telling the judge the internal affairs officers who made the entries regarding rules violations are not available to testify as to their context.

“Her admission of marijuana usage in the application process is not relevant and is prejudicial,” Rogers judge.

Prosecutors pushed back, saying evidence of Jean’s marijuana use the night he was killed was entered for the jury to consider.

Dallas County District Judge Tammy Kemp overruled the defense objections, allowing the evidence.

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