An African-American Female Judge Allows Defense To Use ‘Castle Doctrine’ in Amber Guyger Murder Case

Similar to the much-debated Stand Your Ground doctrine, this one justifies the use of deadly force.

Today, the fate of Amber Guyger, ex-Dallas cop, who shot and killed Botham Jean on September 6, 2018, is in the hands of 12 jurors, as both defense and prosecutors conclude their closing statements. The defense claims Amber Guyger, five-year police veteran, thought she was entering her own home, when she killed Botham Jean. 

Presiding Judge Tammy Kemp allowed the jury to consider the Castle Law, which is very similar to the contentious Stand Your Ground law. The doctrine allows a person, inside their home, or any legally occupied place, to use deadly force to defend themselves against an intruder. Not only is lethal force justified, it does not require a person to retreat when an individual is assaulted within one's own home.

Botham Jean, a beloved worship leader at his church, was murdered while enjoying a bowl of ice cream and watching television in his apartment. Guyger, who claims to have worked a 14- hour shift and may have suffered “inattentional blindness,” missed several clues that would indicate she was in the wrong apartment. These clues include the illuminated apartment numbers, parking garage floor numbers and the bright red doormat outside of Jean’s door, the only one of its kind in the entire South Side Flats complex.

Guyger entered Jean’s unit on the fourth floor, although her own apartment is on the third. Prosecution argued Jean was not a threat to Guyger, and named other options available for Guyger to flee if she feared for her life. The state attorney argued that Guyger chose to engage, becoming the aggressor and intruder, instead of using her police training to de-escalate. If convicted of murder, Guyger faces life in prison. 

If jurors do not anonymously agree to convict Guyger of murder, jurors can still convict the 31-year-old of manslaughter, because of her recklessness, per Judge Kemp’s instructions.  Manslaughter is a second-degree felony, which carries a prison sentence from two to 20 years. If Guyger is convicted of manslaughter, instead of murder, and is sentenced to less than 10 years, she could receive probation.

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