Former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger, 31, on Wednesday was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the murder of her neighbor Botham Shem Jean, 26. Facing between 2-99 years, legal experts were shocked that the same jury that found Guyger guilty just one day earlier sentenced her to only ten years in prison.
Law&Crime Network analyst and former Assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia Gene Rossi said that ten years was far too lenient for Guyger, calling the jury’s sentencing decision insulting.
“I’m insulted,” Rossi said. “And I’ll tell you why. I know people who committed tax crimes who got more than 10 years. I know non-violent drug dealers that got more than 10 years. This jury found that she intentionally took the life of a helpless man who was 26-years-old. I am offended. I was predicting maybe 30 or 40 years. If I’m Amber Guyger I’m popping the champagne.”
Similarly, Law&Crime Legal Analyst and civil rights trial attorney Katherine Smith said she expected a longer sentence, particularly in light of the evidence the prosecution introduced during Guyger’s sentencing hearing.
“I’m scratching my head. I don’t get it,” Smith said, “especially since we know there were some underlying biases that the defendant had. I don’t get it.”
“I’m disappointed,” she added. “This was the result that I feared. All logic would dictate that if [the jury] believed there was murder and they believed that the “sudden passion” should not have intervened, that she would get more than this. I’m disappointed.”
Linda Kenney Baden, a former criminal prosecutor and Law&Crime Network host said the sentence was a clear “win” for Guyger, whose attorneys did not appear to be on top of their game.
“It’s a win for the defense given all of their missteps,” she said. “It tells you that when the prosecution asks for 28 years [the jury] split the baby and then they gave her some, maybe because they felt for her- they felt like we felt – that somehow her defense had failed her, that she had been sexually abused. She shouldn’t have taken a life, she’s got to pay a penalty, but there’s a warning for the next time: ‘don’t do it,’” Baden said.
As previously reported by Law&Crime, during Guyger’s sentencing hearing, which began Tuesday afternoon, prosecutors introduced text messages which showed that Guyger joked about the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and made racially incendiary remarks about black police officers, saying they have a “different way of working.”
That was followed on Wednesday by testimony from Karen Guyger, Amber’s mother, who told the court that her former boyfriend sexually molested Amber when she was six-years-old.
The prosecution had urged the jury to return a sentence of no less than 28 years.
[image and video via Law&Crime Network]