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The Dallas County medical examiner who performed Botham Jean’s autopsy told jurors on Wednesday that the bullet that killed him entered in a “downward motion,” indicating that Jean’s body was positioned below former Dallas Police officer’s gun when she fatally shot him.
Dr. Chester Gwin could not say definitively where Guyger or Jean were positioned during the fatal confrontation, but when questioned by prosecutors, the doctor agreed the 26-year-old Jean was likely “bent over in some capacity or even on his back” when Guyger shot him, CNN writes:
[Dr. Gwin] testified the bullet entered above his left nipple and traveled downward through the chest, hit a rib and struck his lung and heart. It moved through the diaphragm, struck the stomach and intestines, stopping in a muscle in the abdominal cavity close to the spine…
Guyger claimed she mistakenly walked into Jean’s apartment, thinking it was her own, and shot him after mistaking him for an intruder. Her lawyers have argued that Jean was coming toward her, and the off-duty cop “had no choice” but to shoot him.
That rationale changes, of course, if Jean were already on his back or incapacitated.
As the prosecution rested its case against Guyger on Thursday, a clear line of argument has emerged: that even if Guyger mistook her upstairs neighbor’s apartment for hers—and subsequently, mistook him for an intruder—she didn’t follow proper protocol in her confrontation with him, nor should she have feared for her life.
Guyger’s lawyers will now be tasked with convincing a jury that the former officer made a reasonable mistake. On Wednesday, part of that argument appeared to be supported by Texas Ranger David Armstrong, who investigated the shooting.
From the Dallas Morning News:
Investigators interviewed 297 residents at the apartment complex, Armstrong said, and many of them told authorities they’d parked on the wrong floor, walked to the wrong apartment or even put their keys in the door of the wrong apartment by mistake. Armstrong parked on the wrong floor himself during the investigation, he said.
The percentage of people who’d experienced such confusion grew when police interviewed residents of the third and fourth floors, where Guyger and Jean lived, he said. For instance, while 32% of residents said they’d parked on the wrong floor, 47% of residents on the third and fourth floors said they had parked on the incorrect level.
But even if Guyger initially mistook Jean’s apartment for hers, prosecutors argued she overlooked clear signs it wasn’t, showing jurors videos of Guyger’s and Jean’s apartments and highlighting the many differences: including Jean’s red welcome mat and a large ottoman. Witnesses also testified that the lights in Jean’s apartment appeared to be on at the time.
Guyger’s lawyers also attempted to argue that Jean was closer to the former cop than he may have been, pointing to the location of his sandals at the crime scene, but state District Judge Tammy Kemp didn’t permit that testimony since Jean’s shoes had been moved by officers when they were trying to resuscitate him.
As the Dallas Morning News reports, Texas Ranger Michael Adcock testified Jean’s body was found 13 to 15 feet from the door.
Prosecutors have also emphasized Guyger’s state of mind before the shooting, sharing steamy texts she had exchanged with a former colleague to convince jurors she was distracted—and therefore negligent—in the moments leading up to Jean’s shooting. Moreover, they also questioned Sgt. Adcock about the presence of blood on her uniform.
Adcock testified that investigators found no traces of blood on her uniform, and blue latex gloves in her uniform also appeared to be unused—signs, Assistant District Attorney Jason Hermus seemed to suggest, that Guyger made no attempt to save Jean’s life after realizing her fatal mistake.