Crime

Jurors selected in Amber Guyger murder trial will be notified by morning, judge says

Jury selection begins in Amber Guyger trial

Attorneys Lee Merritt and Daryl Washington address the media as jury selection begins in the Amber Guyger murder trial. Jury selection fell on the year anniversary of the day Guyger fatally shot Botham Jean while he was in his Dallas apartment.
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Attorneys Lee Merritt and Daryl Washington address the media as jury selection begins in the Amber Guyger murder trial. Jury selection fell on the year anniversary of the day Guyger fatally shot Botham Jean while he was in his Dallas apartment.

The judge in the Amber Guyger murder trial told potential jurors that they would be notified late Friday or early Saturday if they were chosen to be part of the jury that will decide the fate of an ex-Dallas police officer who shot and killed an unarmed man.

The former officer told 911 dispatchers about a year ago that she believed the man she shot was an intruder in her apartment.

Guyger, 31, who is white, discovered after the fatal shooting that she had entered the wrong apartment on Sept. 6, 2018, and shot Botham Jean, a 26-year-old black native of the island of St. Lucia, while he was in his own apartment.

The upcoming trial has spurred intense discussion about whether race played a factor in the shooting, or in Guyger’s arrest and termination.

Shortly before 10:30 a.m. Friday, court officials began the arduous task of paring down the jury pool to the 12 jurors and four alternates who will potentially hear testimony in the trial, which is expected to begin Sept. 23 and could last more than two weeks.

State District Judge Tammy Kemp said jurors should prepare to pack at least one week of clothing because they may not be allowed to return home for the duration of the trial, a process called sequestration.

About 370 potential jurors were ushered into the central jury room at the Frank Crowley courthouse in Dallas, and that number was cut down to 220 before the judge began considering the excuses of those who said they were unable to serve.

The jury pool was released at about 7:30 p.m. Friday and told that 16 people would receive instructions by telephone on whether they should return Sept. 23.

When asked earlier Friday, Kemp said she had not made a decision on a request by Guyger’s lawyers to convene the trial in another county. Attorneys representing Guyger argued that the former Dallas police officer could not receive a fair trial in Dallas County and motioned that the trial be moved to another location.

Prosecutors have opposed moving the trial, and Kemp has said she will make a ruling on whether an impartial jury can be seated after the jury selection process is complete.

Guyger is charged with murder in the death of Jean. She was fired from the Dallas police force after the shooting.

Guyger, who was off duty but in uniform at the time of the shooting, has said she mistook Jean’s apartment for her own after an extended day at work and thought he was an intruder when she shot him, according to court documents.

This story includes information from Star-Telegram archives.

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Mitch Mitchell is an award-winning reporter covering courts and crime for the Star-Telegram. Additionally, Mitch’s past coverage on municipal government, healthcare and social services beats allow him to bring experience and context to the stories he writes.
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