GUILTY! Amber Guyger “Wrong Apartment” Shooter Convicted of Murder

Just a quick update on the Amber Guyger “Wrong Apartment” murder case, as we have a verdict: The jury has convicted Guyger of murder, as charged.

From CNN, reporting a few minutes ago:

A jury has found former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger guilty of murder, the judge announced Tuesday. Guyger was indicted last year after fatally shooting her unarmed neighbor, Botham Jean, in his own apartment, which she said she mistook as hers. There was applause and cheers outside the courtroom after the jury left.


Attorney Andrew F. Branca
Law of Self Defense LLC

41 thoughts on “GUILTY! Amber Guyger “Wrong Apartment” Shooter Convicted of Murder”

  1. What about the “sudden passion” diminishment

    “At the punishment stage of a trial, the defendant may raise the issue as to whether he caused the death under the immediate influence of sudden passion arising from an adequate cause. If the defendant proves the issue in the affirmative by a preponderance of the evidence, the offense is a felony of the second degree.”

    1. Attorney Andrew Branca

      Yes, I’m sure that the defense will go for that at sentencing.
      It’s entirely up to the sentencing judge.
      If the sentencing judge denies, it can be a basis for appeal.
      Given that I don’t see how a rational jury, on these facts and law, can arrive at a first-degree murder conviction, I’d like to think the mitigation would occur, but we’ll have to see.
      Attorney Andrew F. Branca
      Law of Self Defense LLC

  2. Napoleonssandwich

    Hi Andrew,

    I’ve been watching some of this trial on Law & Crime Network and have a question if you have time to reply.

    I saw Amber Guyger answering some questions from the prosecutor where she seemed confused and befuddled by a question put to her and she answered in a way that seemed that it could implicate her negatively as regards that line of questioning.

    My question is this – Couldn’t have Guyger still have asserted her 5th amendment right at any time while on the stand facing questions from the prosecutor?

    1. Attorney Andrew Branca

      “Couldn’t have Guyger still have asserted her 5th amendment right at any time while on the stand facing questions from the prosecutor?”

      No, generally once you decide to testify, you’ve waived your 5th Amendment right to silence.
      You either testify, and subject yourself to cross, or you don’t.
      Keep in mind, cross-examination is (supposed to be) limited in scope to what was covered on direct examination. A defendant testifying is called by the defense, so thee defense does the direct, and the scope of their direct should set the boundary of what the prosecution can ask about on cross.
      Of course, if the direct is broad-ranging, as I would expect to be the case in a self-defense case such as this, the cross can be equally as broad.
      Attorney Andrew F. Branca
      Law of Self Defense LLC

      1. That would be interesting if the Defendant is merely asked authenticate a video of a claimed self-defense shooting due to prosecution demand for authentication..

        1. Attorney Andrew Branca

          A very interesting facet of the Zimmerman trial was the the prosecution–THE PROSECUTION!–introduced video of Zimmerman doing a walk-through at the crime scene, in which everything in the video was consistent with the narrative of self-defense.
          The effect was to allow Zimmerman to virtually “testify” in front of the jury, via that video, without ever actually having to take the witness stand and be subject to cross-examination.
          Just another of the mind-blowing facets of that whole trial.
          Attorney Andrew F. Branca
          Law of Self Defense LLC

          1. Have you seen The Trayvon Hoax: Unmasking the Witness Fraud that Divided America? I believe there is both a book and a DVD. I have watched the DVD and it would seem that the prosecutors should be in deep trouble, but given how corrupt the “justice” system is I doubt anything will be done.

    1. I would like to know that too. I have said from the beginning had he been anything other than a black person we would have never heard about this case and the police officer would have not been charged. If the jury was largely black they would likely the inclined to convict the opposite of how they did when OJ was tried.

  3. Murder? What was her motive? Did she plan this out in advance?

    I could understand something like negligent homicide. In fact, it seems to me based on everything I’ve read and heard about this case, she should be held accountable for killing Mr Jean. It just seems like murder is a stretch.

        1. Yeronimus Pretorius

          Texas doesn’t require motive or premeditation for a murder conviction, but does require criminal intent. The prosecution did it’s best, or worst, in my opinion, to convince the jury that mere intent to PERFORM an ACT, rather than to COMMIT a CRIME was enough to satisfy the intent requirement.

      1. Attorney Andrew Branca

        The negligence could be the perception of the threat, not the pulling of the trigger.
        Attorney Andrew F. Branca
        Law of Self Defense LLC

  4. What has, from the beginning, bothered me about this case is that I have profound trouble understanding that a trained police officer wants us to believe that she was ‘reasonably’ unaware of her surroundings to the degree that she entered the wrong apartment, and continued to be ’situationally unaware’ for some good amount of time up until the moment that she unholstered her weapon and began ‘giving verbal commands’. For anyone, and in this case not just anyone, but a person highly trained in the skills of situational awareness to believe with 100% conviction that they are some place where in fact they are not, and proceed and continue to act under that delusion, brings up some serious questions. These are questions as to her training, and/or her fitness for the task of carrying a weapon of deadly force.

    Speaking as a CCW holder, I can tell you that if I am exhausted after a 12 hour shift, or perhaps I am coming down with the fu, or perhaps I just found out my spouse filed for divorce that day, or whatever twists and turns life may have thrown at me that day, I factor this into my plan of procedure of my use of a deadly weapon. I do not accept that her actions were ‘an honest mistake’ or in any sense were ‘reasonable’. She, as a trained police officer, bears the same responsibility as us CCW holders do. That is to always to be 100% sure of our situation, especially at the moments preceding when we choose to un-holster our weapon. If we are impaired or just choose to not pay attention to our surroundings then we should mentally inform ourselves that we need to go into a ‘stand down mode’, and NEVER draw our weapon until we can properly reengage our brains and our training.

    1. It seems you have not seen/understood what Mr Branca has been saying about this case all along. Was it reasonable? Was it “awful but lawful?” You state that you don’t accept that it was an honest mistake, which seems to mean that you think the defendant intentionally walked into the apartment that is not hers with a plan to kill the man who resided there. I don’t think anyone, including you, has the evidence to even hint at that. In fact the 911 call recording seems to demonstrate how distraught she was immediately after she realized her mistake, like any reasonable person would have been in that situation.

      What you need to understand is that police officers–ALL of them–are human beings, and NONE of them are infallible. This is especially true of new officers, who are under tremendous amount of stress for many various reasons–rotating shifts, long shift hours, odd shift hours, constantly being on high alert, constantly being reminded (by self and others) that any mistake could get them fired, etc. And these are stressors of simply being an officer. Add to these having to deal with the lowest members of our society all shift long, driving the patrol car for hours and hours, foot pursuits, physical confrontations. If you think you can run down a criminal on foot while carrying 20+ pounds of gear, wrestle him into cuffs, and not be exhausted after two minutes of fighting for your life, then you have no business commenting about police officers. What is also relevant is that if that is the kind of biased/uninformed person you are, then you are what’s wrong with our jury system. Juries continue to convict people based on their emotions and biases, rather than facts, because they can’t (sometimes refuse to) see through the other person’s eyes.

  5. This seems like the correct outcome. I agree with the jury that her judgements were unreasonable, but even aside from the legal standards I think it’s important to note some mistakes she made from a tactics standpoint:

    1. She carried a gun while extremely tired. Tired people make less reasonable decisions and make very bad snap decisions.
    2. When she saw the door ajar she didn’t think twice before resorting to violence
    3. She cleared a room that did not need to be cleared. Room entry is really hard even when you’re completely awake.

    Such as sad situation all around. This is a good example of the concept that almost reasonable decisions are 100% criminal — it’s binary. The big takeaways I see here are

    1. Treat being tired like being buzzed — don’t carry while in such a state.
    2. Avoid clearing rooms unless you absolutely must.

    1. Attorney Andrew Branca

      Concluding that Guyger’s conduct was unreasonable is, I think, a perfectly understandable position, but it would normally result in a manslaughter conviction, not murder.
      Murder would be normally found where the belief was not only unreasonable, but not held at all–e.g., not only that she SHOULD have known she was not entering her own apartment, but that she DID know she was not entering her own apartment. It’s not clear to me that there was any evidence of the latter (e.g., nothing ever came of all the “she must have been sleeping with Botham Jean and they’d had a bad break-up” speculation that might have supported an inference of an intent to enter what she knew to be Jean’s apartment rather than her own).
      Attorney Andrew F. Branca
      Law of Self Defense LLC

      1. Fair point, if that’s the distinction murder seems wildly inappropriate. During closing the prosecutor told the jury that manslaughter would only apply if the killing itself was unintentional, such as if the bullet went through a wall and killed a neighbor. He said that it’s murder if the act was intentional the the distinction unreasonable. He never tried to argue that she DID know she was entering the wrong apartment. Is there grounds for appeal if the prosecutor told the jury to make a decision outside of their formal instructions? Surely their actual instructions contained this distinction.

        1. Attorney Andrew Branca

          A prosecutor misstating the law at closing can be a basis for appeal, but if the jury instructions themselves are correct it would normally only be a basis for appeal if the defense objected at the time of the misstatement of law.
          Did they? I didn’t watch the closing myself.
          Even if they did, however, correct jury instructions might be deemed to have “cured” any misstatement by the prosecutor.
          It’s an argument I would make, but it’s not an overwhelmingly strong one. Depends if the appellate court decided that they liked it, really.
          Attorney Andrew F. Branca
          Law of Self Defense

  6. You say most of the time that the facts available to you are incomplete, coming from press reports, so I can’t hold you to your opinion as being the same as it would be if you did have all the facts. your original opinion, however, seems to have been wrong, namely that the shooting was justified based on the perceptions and beliefs of the shooter. My comment is not to say you were right or wrong or that I agree or disagree with your original opinion. My comment is to ask how I, as a non-lawyer, could ever hope to make a correct or even defensible decision under stressful and borderline circumstances if you couldn’t with your legal training and experience in this particular area and detailed analysis in this particular case? Juries being what they are, it sounds like most detailed and legally sophisticated training I can get can be ignored or negated by jurors who would probably know less than I would about the applicable laws. That’s frightening. It seems even worse when you say, as I have read on this web site, that the people who are supposed to know the law and the proper ways to conduct searches and gather evidence and present evidence and instruct juries don’t appear to know enough about those to apply the law correctly. Those deficiencies would be direct threats to my freedom.

    1. Attorney Andrew Branca

      You need to have a legal team that can effectively communicate the actual law to the jury, and the evidence in support of that desired application of the law.
      An ineffective legal team will allow any defendant to be rail-roaded into prison.
      Not every legal team is effective.
      The legal team for George Zimmerman did a literally perfect job, zero mistakes.
      The legal team for Michael Drejka (the handicap spot shooter) did a terrible job, too many missteps to count.
      I didn’t follow this Guyger case closely enough to have an informed judgment of the performance of the legal team, but receiving a murder conviction on these facts and laws does not suggest excellence.
      And, yes, a more capable legal team tends to be more costly.
      Also, it’s worth noting, that the risk of losing the legal fight, just like the risk of losing the physical fight, is ALWAYS GREATER THAN ZERO.
      We can get that risk very close to zero. We can never get the risk to zero.
      Don’t go getting into fights you don’t need to get into.
      Attorney Andrew F. Branca
      Law of Self Defense LLC

  7. It will be interesting to see (if we ever do) the jury’s reasoning behind this verdict. I suspect the instructions themselves led to the murder conviction vs manslaughter, since she admitted on the stand that she intended to kill Jean when she fired her gun. But I also suspect the jury caught another thing she testified to, and that may have swayed them towards a conviction as well. Namely, when she admitted that she opened the unlocked door and entered the apartment to confront the “intruder” because that was the only option that came to mind. As a CWC myself, I would never enter a situation like this without calling for back-up first. I’ve asked my CWC friends and police officers I know, and we all seem to be in agreement that this decision was her primary mistake. The fact that calling for back-up never even occurred to her in the moment really made it seem like her judgement/training was off-kilter. I believe that this may have led the jury to question the reasonableness of her decision to shoot when she saw Jean inside the apartment. If her decision to enter the apartment when she thought there was an intruder inside was unreasonable…then I could see a jury concluding the shooting itself was unreasonable as well.

    1. Attorney Andrew Branca

      I think that’s a perfectly legitimate point of view–certainly, I myself would never go into an empty apartment to investigate a suspected intruder present–but even so, it still only gets us to manslaughter, if she genuinely believed she was going into her own place.
      The “intended to kill” language IS awkward. Anytime one uses deadly force in purported self-defense it ought to be expected that death of the target will result, but death is NOT the goal. Stopping the threat is the goal. If the threat is stopped, but lives, that’s a win.
      Attorney Andrew F. Branca
      Law of Self Defense LLC

      1. I agree, murder seems like overreach to me as well, with these circumstances. But if the jury concluded the shooting was unreasonable, and they felt that manslaughter was off the table because she admitted that she intended to kill Jean, they may have felt like they only had the option to vote for murder or acquittal. I think her testimony really led the jury to the murder conviction. In hindsight, I don’t think this jury would have reached the same conclusion without her admissions on the stand. Based on the facts and her recorded 911 conversation, I would conclude this was a tragic case where a series of small mistakes led to a big mistake and an accidental death. Hearing her admit she never considered calling for back-up, and that she intended to kill Jean when she fired her weapon took me by surprise, actually. Had she just said she wanted to stop him (rather than kill) things may have been slightly better for her. But she did not come across as a well-trained police officer on the stand. My impression of her was diminished by her testimony, so I can see how the combination of her testimony and the instructions could lead a jury to this decision.

    2. The difference between a police officer and an armed private individual is that the officer has the duty to intervene in situations that the private individual does not and may even be required to avoid.

  8. Murder? Seriously!? I would have gone for Voluntary Manslaughter or even (involuntary manslaughter but it doesn’t seem to fit), but MURDER?
    Unintentional second degree murder goes by several theatrical names, including:
    “implied malice” murder
    “abandoned and malignant heart” murder, and
    “depraved mind” murder.

    I’m having a lot of trouble with this: so the jury thought that she purposefully went to the wrong apartment (or lied and knew it wasn’t her apartment) just so she could kill a random person, or maybe just wanted to kill this guy because ???? She planned this all out ahead of time because ????? I really don’t get what the logic used here was. I think the jury got railroaded by very sophisticated strategic maneuvering by the prosecution which made them think that they could not opt for voluntary or involuntary manslaughter. Don’t jurors know their rights, don’t they know what Jury Nullification is?

    >”she admitted that she intended to kill Jean”
    I think she should have admitted to “shooting to stop the threat” not “shooting to kill”, not sure if others here see that distinction.

    1. looks like I transposed Voluntary and Involuntary manslaughter in my original comment above:
      >I would have gone for Voluntary Manslaughter or even (involuntary manslaughter but it doesn’t seem to fit), but MURDER?
      should be:
      >I would have gone for Involuntary Manslaughter (or even voluntary manslaughter, though it doesn’t seem to fit), but MURDER?

  9. I am not an expert on Laws of Self Defense. I would say 90% of what I know comes from Andrew’s Book “Laws of Self Defense and his Case Studies, then CCWSafe Podcasts, and some from Concealed Carry (I appreciate).

    That said, if nothing else I see her biggest mistake was to go in to that apartment when she found the door unlocked or not secured properly. That even there even if she thought it was her apartment and I believe she did under the situations (layout of the apartment building, a long shift, and I read some place she was TXTing with a love / sex, partner (I heard don’t know if true).
    Anyway, I know for sure I learned a lesson, should I come home and find the door open DO NOT GO IN – Call 911 and STAY BACK where there is cover (cover that would stop an attack, bullet). As Andrew says, Don’t get into a fight not needed.

    As far as Murder Conviction, my opinion not knowing the laws in detail is “HECK NO , Not Murder, but Manslaughter or Something.”

    It was a bad mistake, accident killing, despite her being a police officer (supposedly trained) and their needs to be justice.

    Despite her saying, I shot intending to kill. Been so nice if she said, ” I was aiming at his leg to stop him.” Be honest, if you aim a gun at a threat, fire it, and don’t expect to kill, why shoot?

    A stop would be just as good (better cause not taking a life). I would assume one is aiming at Body Mass which is more likely to kill than just stop. If I was Matt Dillon, I would aim at their gun and shoot it out of their hand.

    I hope she is punished (if that is justice or solves anything), but not for life on a bad mistake (not murder in my opinion – ain’t a lawyer).

  10. guilty as charged

    Pulling the trigger is not as glorious and hero-like its cracked up to be. Pull the trigger and your life will change forever. The prosecutor could be making final arguments before a jury, staring you in the face, pointing his finger at you and saying, “Self-defense is an option of last resort. You killed him unreasonably and unjustifiably. You will be held responsible for what you did and whether or not you want to accept responsibility, it will be forced upon you and by God in Dallas County, Texas. There will be a consequence for you walking in and shooting an unarmed, defenseless man.”
    It was probably a mistake for Guyger to testify. Even though she wanted to clear the air, get something off her chest, say she’s sorry, I feel she was not emotionally enough in control to testify, but that’s up to the defense lawyers to decide.
    Saying Jean approached her, something not in her original statement, sounded to the prosecutor and jury like fabricating to her benefit.
    The prosecutor said, “When you aimed and pulled the trigger at Mr. Jean, shooting him in center mass exactly where you are trained, you intended to kill Mr. Jean.”. “I did,” Guyger said. The defense lawyer must have closed his eyes and the jury opened theirs. She miss-spoke and the jury probably keyed that statement.

  11. Yeronimus Pretorius

    The prosecutor berated her about why she pulled the trigger, and Guyger, broken, depressed, and dejected, gave in. She felt so guilty, I believe at that point she wanted to be convicted, and that’s why she admitted intending to kill Jean. Notice I said “admitted”, not “confessed to a crime”, and “intending to kill”, not “intending to commit murder”. Castle doctrine and mistake of fact made shooting him not a murder, and the prosecution did its best make the jury think that castle doctrine didn’t apply, and that the mistake of fact law didn’t exist. The state never had any convincing evidence of criminal intent, so they pounded the table hard.

    Now the sentencing phase is on, and Guyger’s past crimethink is haunting her. They’re bringing up supposedly racist posts, tweets, and memes to get her the maximum sentence possible, when there’s not a shred of evidence that the shooting was racially motivated. It shouldn’t even matter if Guyger was a charter member of a local KKK klavern, since there’s no evidence that she knew that Jean was black at the time of the shooting.

    1. Yeronimus Pretorius

      BTW, I don’t believe Guyger when she said she intended to kill Jean. She simply conceded to the prosecutor. She shot to stop the perceived threat, using deadly force against Jean knowing that he could die. If she had wanted to kill, why did she fire only twice, striking only once? Why did she stop shooting immediately when the “threat” was ended? Why didn’t she shoot many more times, and/or in the head? Why did she call 911 instead of finishing him off?

  12. guilty as charged

    If the judge does the right thing, she will nullify the jury’s decision and acquit because the defendant has the right not to incriminate herself, but gave up under the pressure of the abusive prosecutor tactics. I think everyone can see she had no criminal intent, everyone that is who have no racial bias. This is what judges are for – justice.
    For police officers and CCW holders, everyone who carries a gun, we must always practice legal dry fire, can I, must I, should I to get our brain up to speed with innocence, imminence, proportional, avoidance and reasonable so we can make split second decisions – what if games. As Guyger approached “her” apartment her head was not in the game and her life changed forever. For my police friends whom i respect greatly, follow this relevant link – https://www.lexipol.com/resources/todays-tips/sexual-assault-by-cops.

  13. I believe the jury saw it as two “events”. The first being the mistake that got her to the apartment. I don’t think anyone believes that she purposefully went to and tried to enter someone else’s apartment. Unfortunately for everyone involved once she arrived at this particular door it had a fault which caused it to be ajar which triggered the second “event”, what Ms. Guyger did from that point forward. The following is her testimony on direct examination:
    Shook; You were telling the jury what you were feeling Something about what you were feeling in your chest?
    Guyger: I compare it to being into a car wreck. Right before you hit that car you literally just, everything freezes up inside your body. You don’t know what’s gonna happen next. It’s just fear, fear, fear inside of you.

    Shook: As that door began to open, what where you looking for? What was going through your mind?
    Guyger: Since I knew someone was moving around inside my apartment, I wanted just to find that threat.
    Shook: What were you feeling?
    Guyger: Fear, scared as sh-, crap.
    On cross examination, Mr. Hermus completely dismantled her choice to enter the apartment:: She had not yet entered the apartment; Her training would have dictated that she call for backup; She could have taken cover; Why enter if you were afraid; etc.
    Also later during cross:
    Hermus: When you shot at him twice, you intended to kill him?
    Guyger: Yes sir.
    Hermus: So all this stuff about it being a sad mistake. At the moment in time when rubber meets the road, when you pulled that trigger, you intended to kill Mr. Jean?
    Guyger: He was the threat, yes sir.
    Hermus: Will you answer my question? When you aimed and pulled the trigger shooting Mr. Jean, shooting him in center mass exactly where you are trained. You intended to kill Mr. Jean?
    Guyger: I did.
    My opinion is that, for the jury, this painted Ms. Guyger as someone who was seeking vengeance on the intruder instead of defending herself from an imminent threat.
    And I’m certain Mr. Branca would agree, as a self defender on the witness stand, you would never say you shot to kill the intruder.

    1. Guyger: I compare it to being into a car wreck. Right before you hit that car you literally just, everything freezes up inside your body. You don’t know what’s gonna happen next. It’s just fear, fear, fear inside of you.
      Shook: What were you feeling?
      Guyger: Fear, scared as sh-, crap.

      from ― Massad Ayoob:
      “We must have reasonable fear of death or grave bodily harm when we employ this level of force. Reasonable fear is starkly distinct from what the law calls bare fear, which never justifies harming another. Bare fear is naked panic, a blind and unreasoning fear.”

      My opinion of Gyger is that she would not even had made it past the training permit process for a citizen level CCW here in California, much less make it through the qualification form a Police Academy. There is a current problem with affirmative action hiring of young millennium females and Gyger is a shining example. Mr Stan Campbell and Mr. Mike Darter discuss this hiring, temperament and qualification issues in detail in a recent podcast at CCWSAFE. Later today when I get time I will scan and locate that particular podcasts and post here with the timestamp so that you can hear what these two experts have to say on this subject.

      For you remaining ” (@WETHEPEOPLE) – ALL cops can do no wrong” types: Let’s try this exercise for you:
      1.)Unload your weapon and secure all ammo in a locked safe, Treat this like a Dry Fire Drill.
      2.) Wait till after dark, go to your local Pizza Parlor for Dinner, and call your assistant (whom you have previously set this dry fire practicer drill up with, he has prepared in advance, has a key to your front door, has an assistant, a big well built threatening looking ‘evil type’ male actor friend to help out).
      3.) You return home and observe that the front door is ajar, the TV is playing but has been moved from its normal location to a counter top, you see a large well built male in the back of the front room, you notice that you are standing on a brightly colored entrance door-way mat in front of the ajar door, it flashes through your mind “how did that mat get placed at the door, and you are now standing on it, you process the fact that you do not own such a mat and have never see such a mat before. What is it’s purpose?, Why is it there?You observe a Bowl of Ice Cream on the coffee table, also the strong smell of burning cannabis joints come from the crack in the open front door. It is all a very confusing set of circumstances. It’s bee re-arranged in a way that it almost doesn’t look like your home, but your KNOW it is !

      OK, now that the scene is set up here is your Practice makes perfect Drill: At this time it is your responsibility to step up and choose your “Next Action Plan”:

      Do you Choose Action Plan #1 -or- #2 ?

      1.) You STOP and OBSERVE, You note that the ‘intruder does not see you observing him. THERE IS PLEATY OF TIME> TAKE A MOMENT AS YOU ARE NOT UNDER IMMEDIATE THREAT. THINK IT ALL THROUGH AS TIME IS ON YOUR SIDE. A brief calculation is that, somethings very wrong, the scene make little sense and is confusing, after all how did all this happen? a.) TV sets have been moved from their usual location, b.) someone possibly with a duplicate key, c.) no forced entry..?? You therefore CHOOSE to retreat to an area where you have better cover and concealment. You move there and continue to OBSERVE and REPORT to the 911 dispatch that you now have on the cell phone. You request backup, as you continue to Observer and Report until help arrives.

      -or do You ?-

      2.) As in description in #1 above, You observe many anomalies about your environment as you approach your front door. You see a large male in the back of the room, You become fearful, and that fear is playing games with your understanding of how much time you have to observer this unusual set of circumstance. Mental, but not actual time begins to compress. The fear is playing mental games with your ability to distinguish ‘actual threat’. As Massad Ayoob says you are in danger of sliding into a state of Bare fear / naked panic, a blind and unreasoning fear. Your next move? Not you, but Fear is now controlling your plan of action , it is fight or flight, You unholster your weapon, enter the room and fire center mass shots at the intruder, killing him.


      All the necessary points in this case are handled well in Jason Hermus Closing Statements. Highly recommend you See it here:


  14. Andrew-I was struck by the judge’s including Castle Doctrine consideration among the jury instructions (quote below from the Manchester Union Leader (but attributed to the Washington Post):
    “Dallas County District Court Judge Tammy Kemp ruled Monday that the jury could consider the ‘castle doctrine,” a controversial law that says your home is your castle and you have a right to defend it. Kemp’s decision “raised the bar for prosecutors and sparked outrage and disbelief from critics who questioned how the law could protect Guyger when she shot Jean in his own apartment,’…”
    I thought Kemp’s ruling bizarre. Does not the Doctrine apply only in one’s home? No one disputes Guyger clearly was not. The judges instructions suggests a mere reasonable belief that one is in their own home might be sufficient to invoke Castle Doctrine relieving their otherwise duty to retreat.

    1. Attorney Andrew Branca

      First, the law they are citing, §9.32(b) is NOT “Castle Doctrine,” no matter how many times they call it that.
      Second, Texas Penal Code §9.32(b), which creates a legal presumption that the use of deadly defensive force was reasonable, requires as necessary conditions that there be a forcible and unlawful entry and that the habitation be occupied at the time. There was no evidence of either of those necessary conditions, so §9.32(b) literally had zero application to the facts of this case. It was mistaken to give the instruction because it was irrelevant. It neither helped nor hurt Guyger, because the facts of her case simply did meet the conditions of, and therefore did not trigger, §9.32(b).
      Bottom line: §9.32(b), which is being MISTAKENLY referred to using the phrase “Castle Doctrine” has no more to do with this case than did “Stand-Your-Ground” in the George Zimmerman trial.
      One wonders if the media is, knowingly or ignorantly, being led by the nose on this faux “Castle Doctrine” language the same way they’ve for years been led by the nose about “Stand-Your-Ground,” for purely political reasons.
      Attorney Andrew F. Branca
      Law of Self Defense LLC

  15. Andrew,

    I’m interested to get your perspective on the importance or affect of Amber’s social media posts, particularly the ones geared towards her “desire to kill” as the prosecution would put it.

    From my understand of self defense law, it doesn’t matter whether the defender/shooter intended to kill the aggressor or not, so long as their use of deadly force is justified. I’m wondering (1) what reason the prosecution brought in that evidence and (2) whether a defender’s intent might matter in a case such as this where its a blurry line between a justified and unjustified killing.

    I imagine the answer to this will impact how a defender would articulate things (“I wanted to stop (vs. kill) him/her”) to authorities and in court. In addition, I’m thinking that there may be some wisdom in preemptively reviewing one’s social media accounts to ensure similar material isn’t present.

    Thanks in advance!

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