DALLAS — Fired Dallas police Officer Amber Guyger appeared in court Monday for a hearing before her trial in the death of 26-year-old Botham Jean next month.
Guyger, 31, was charged with murder in November, several weeks after she fatally shot Jean in his apartment, just south of downtown Dallas.
The four-year police veteran was off-duty but still in uniform Sept. 6 when, she told authorities, she confused his apartment for hers and mistook him for a burglar.
Monday’s hearing, which was routine, was before state District Judge Tammy Kemp, who will preside over the trial slated to begin Sept. 23.
Kemp allowed prosecutors to admit several items into evidence, including the firearm Guyger used in the shooting, bullet casings, photographs and an unspecified “projectile” that was recovered through Jean’s autopsy.
Prosecutors and Guyger’s defense attorneys stated they did not plan to make references to Guyger’s employment status during the trial. She was fired from the department Sept. 24, about two and a half weeks after the shooting.
Kemp said she hoped jury selection — which is set to begin Sept. 6 — will conclude Sept. 13. She said she planned to have four alternate jurors “because we have a good wait until the start of trial, and things happen.”
The judge said she had not decided whether to sequester the jury during the trial.
Also pending is a defense motion to move the trial out of Dallas County. Guyger’s attorneys say publicity surrounding Jean’s death will make it impossible for her to receive a fair trial.
Her attorneys wrote in a motion to change the trial’s venue that the “media hysteria” surrounding the case has been prejudicial, asking that court proceedings be moved to another county: Collin, Ellis, Fannin, Grayson, Kaufman or Rockwall.
Dallas County prosecutors objected, arguing that Guyger could receive a fair trial in Dallas County.
Kemp did not take up the change-of-venue motion at Monday’s hearing, which began around 10:40 a.m.
The judge said in a court order that she wouldn’t make a decision until after the lawyers question prospective jurors.
An analysis by The Dallas Morning News found that Guyger would likely to face a jury that is whiter and more conservative if her trial is moved to one of the nearby counties her lawyers suggested. Guyger is white and Jean, an accountant from St. Lucia, was black.
©2019 The Dallas Morning News
Visit The Dallas Morning News at www.dallasnews.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
PHOTO (for help with images, contact 312-222-4194):