Texas Judge Denies Venue Change in Murder Trial of Fired Dallas Cop Amber Guyger

This photo provided by the Kaufman County Sheriff’s Office shows fired Dallas police officer Amber Renee Guyger. (Kaufman County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

DALLAS (CN) – A Texas judge Monday denied a motion by fired cop Amber Guyger to move her murder trial out of Dallas, rejecting her claims that the media’s “hysteria and false narratives” prejudiced potential jurors in her trial for the shooting death of an unarmed black man in his own apartment.

Dallas County District Judge Tammy Kemp issued her one-page order hours after a hearing on the motion ended Monday. The judge had said weeks earlier she would hold off on ruling on the motion until after jury selection ended. That process lasted for one full week and ended late Friday night, with twelve jurors and four alternates being selected. 

The judge reportedly told jurors to pack one week’s worth of clothes in case they are to be sequestered. The murder trial is expected to last up to three weeks and will begin next Monday.

Guyger, 30, shot and killed Botham Jean, 26, at the South Side Flats apartment complex south of downtown Dallas on Sept. 7, 2018. Guyger said she thought she had entered her own apartment and fired her service pistol at what she believed was an intruder. 

Guyger claims she then realized she was in the wrong apartment. Her apartment was located on a different floor. 

Jean was employed as an accountant at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Dallas and was a 2016 alumnus of Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas.

Jean’s death made national headlines as another example of an unarmed, young, black male being killed by police. Dallas police faced intense scrutiny in the aftermath, as it took several days for Guyger to be charged with manslaughter due to the Texas Rangers being asked to handle the independent investigation. 

Guyger was fired three weeks after the shooting. She had served in the department for four years. 

Jean’s family, in St. Lucia, filed a federal lawsuit against the city and Guyger one month later, alleging excessive force and violations of his civil rights.

The charges against Guyger were upgraded to murder three months after the shooting.

Guyger’s attorneys – who listed 297 news articles relating to the case – unsuccessfully argued that it is impossible for her to get a fair trial due to “pervasive, prejudicial and inflammatory” publicity.

“This coverage has ranged from the absurd like what defendant wore to a court-setting to the outrageous like falsehoods about defendant being a racist and comparisons of the incident to ‘… a form of lynching,’ which was inflammatory nonsense published by the Dallas Morning News, a presumably reputable media outlet,” the motion stated

The defense blamed public officials who commented on the shooting, including Democratic presidential hopeful and former El Paso congressman Beto O’Rourke calling for Guyger’s firing during a debate with Republican Texas Senator Ted Cruz.

The motion also singled out actress and talk show host Whoopi Goldberg for commenting on the shooting, stating she “never miss[es] the opportunity to inject speculation and nonsense into a narrative.”

“Goldberg laments about a black man ‘smoking (marijuana) while black’ in his home and shouts to the audience, ‘now you understand why people are taking a knee,” the motion stated.

Guyger faces up to life in state prison if convicted.

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