Jury convicts ex-police officer who fatally shot neighbor

DALLAS (AP) — A white former Dallas police officer who said she fatally shot her unarmed, black neighbor after mistaking his apartment for her own was found guilty of murder on Tuesday.

A jury reached the verdict in Amber Guyger's high-profile trial for the killing of Botham Jean after six days of witness testimony but just a handful of hours of deliberation.

Cheers erupted in the courthouse as the verdict was announced, and someone yelled "Thank you, Jesus!"

In Texas, the sentence for murder is from five to 99 years in prison. The jury is expected to return Tuesday afternoon for the punishment phase of the trial.

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Former Dallas officer Amber Guyger convicted of killing her neighbor, Botham Jean
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Former Dallas officer Amber Guyger convicted of killing her neighbor, Botham Jean
FILE - This file photo provided by the Kaufman County Sheriff's Office shows Amber Guyger. A grand jury began hearing evidence Monday, Nov. 26, 2018, in the case of Guyger, a former Dallas police officer who fatally shot her unarmed black neighbor in his own apartment after she said she mistook it for hers on Sept. 6, 2018. (Kaufman County (Texas) Sheriff's Office via AP, File)
This March 24, 2014, photo provided by Harding University in Searcy, Ark., shows Botham Jean, speaking at the university. Authorities said Friday, Sept. 7, 2018, that a Dallas police officer returning home from work shot and killed Jean, a neighbor after she said she mistook his apartment for her own. The officer called dispatch to report that she had shot the man Thursday night, police said. She told responding officers that she believed the victim's apartment was her own when she entered it. (Jeff Montgmery/Harding University via AP)
South Side Flats is shown in this Friday, Sept. 7, 2018 photo. A Dallas police officer returning home from work shot and killed a neighbor after she said she mistook his apartment for her own, authorities said Friday. The officer called dispatch to report that she had shot the man Thursday night, police said. She told responding officers that she believed the victim's apartment was her own when she entered it. (Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning News via AP)
South Side Flats is shown in this Friday, Sept. 7, 2018 photo. A Dallas police officer returning home from work shot and killed a neighbor after she said she mistook his apartment for her own, authorities said Friday. The officer called dispatch to report that she had shot the man Thursday night, police said. She told responding officers that she believed the victim's apartment was her own when she entered it. (AP Photo/Ryan Tarinelli)
This photo from video released Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, by the Kaufman County Sheriff's Office in Kaufman, Texas, shows Dallas police Officer Amber Guyger getting booked after turning herself in Sunday, Sept. 9 following the fatal shooting of Botham Jean in his own apartment. Guyger was arrested manslaughter and has since been released on bond. (Kaufman County Sheriff's Office Jail via AP)
South Side Flats apartments are shown in this Monday, Sept. 10 2018 photo in Dallas. Authorities say a Dallas police officer said she shot a neighbor whose home she mistakenly entered last week after he ignored her "verbal commands." David Armstrong of the Texas Rangers wrote in an arrest affidavit released Monday that Officer Amber Guyger said she didn't realize she was in the wrong apartment until after she shot 26-year-old Botham Jean and went into the hallway to check the address. Guyger was booked Sunday on a manslaughter charge in Thursday night's killing of Jean and was released on bond.(AP Photo/Ryan Tarinelli)
Brandt Jean, center left, brother of shooting victim Botham Jean, hugs his sister Allisa Charles-Findley, during a news conference outside the Frank Crowley Courts Building on Monday, Sept. 10, 2018, in Dallas, about the shooting of Botham Jean by Dallas police officer Amber Guyger on Thursday. He was joined by his mother, Allison Jean, left, and attorney Benjamin Crump, right. (AP Photo/Ryan Tarinelli)
South Side Flats is shown in this Friday, Sept. 7, 2018 photo. A Dallas police officer returning home from work shot and killed a neighbor after she said she mistook his apartment for her own, authorities said Friday. The officer called dispatch to report that she had shot the man Thursday night, police said. She told responding officers that she believed the victim's apartment was her own when she entered it. (Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning News via AP)
A resident holds up an electronic key used to open an apartment door at the South Side Flats in this Monday, Sept. 10 2018 photo in Dallas. Authorities say a Dallas police officer said she shot a neighbor whose home she mistakenly entered last week after he ignored her "verbal commands." David Armstrong of the Texas Rangers wrote in an arrest affidavit released Monday that Officer Amber Guyger said she didn't realize she was in the wrong apartment until after she shot 26-year-old Botham Jean and went into the hallway to check the address. Guyger was booked Sunday on a manslaughter charge in Thursday night's killing of Jean and was released on bond.(AP Photo/Ryan Tarinelli)
South Side Flats is shown in this Friday, Sept. 7, 2018 photo. A Dallas police officer returning home from work shot and killed a neighbor after she said she mistook his apartment for her own, authorities said Friday. The officer called dispatch to report that she had shot the man Thursday night, police said. She told responding officers that she believed the victim's apartment was her own when she entered it. (AP Photo/Ryan Tarinelli)
People stand near Botham Jean's apartment in this Monday, Sept. 10 2018 photo in Dallas. Authorities say a Dallas police officer said she shot a neighbor whose home she mistakenly entered last week after he ignored her "verbal commands." David Armstrong of the Texas Rangers wrote in an arrest affidavit released Monday that Officer Amber Guyger said she didn't realize she was in the wrong apartment until after she shot 26-year-old Jean and went into the hallway to check the address. Guyger was booked Sunday on a manslaughter charge in Thursday night's killing of Jean and was released on bond.(AP Photo/Ryan Tarinelli)
South Side Flats is shown in this Friday, Sept. 7, 2018 photo. A Dallas police officer returning home from work shot and killed a neighbor after she said she mistook his apartment for her own, authorities said Friday. The officer called dispatch to report that she had shot the man Thursday night, police said. She told responding officers that she believed the victim's apartment was her own when she entered it. (Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning News via AP)
This photo from video released Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, by the Kaufman County Sheriff's Office in Kaufman, Texas, shows Dallas police Officer Amber Guyger getting booked after turning herself in Sunday, Sept. 9 following the fatal shooting of Botham Jean in his own apartment. Guyger was arrested manslaughter and has since been released on bond. (Kaufman County Sheriff's Office Jail via AP)
A Dallas Police vehicle is parked near the South Side Flats apartments on Monday, Sept. 10 2018 photo in Dallas. Authorities say a Dallas police officer said she shot a neighbor whose home she mistakenly entered last week after he ignored her "verbal commands." David Armstrong of the Texas Rangers wrote in an arrest affidavit released Monday that Officer Amber Guyger said she didn't realize she was in the wrong apartment until after she shot 26-year-old Botham Jean and went into the hallway to check the address. Guyger was booked Sunday on a manslaughter charge in Thursday night's killing of Jean and was released on bond.(AP Photo/Ryan Tarinelli)
South Side Flats is shown in this Friday, Sept. 7, 2018 photo. A Dallas police officer returning home from work shot and killed a neighbor after she said she mistook his apartment for her own, authorities said Friday. The officer called dispatch to report that she had shot the man Thursday night, police said. She told responding officers that she believed the victim's apartment was her own when she entered it. (Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning News via AP)
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The basic facts of the unusual shooting were not in dispute throughout the trial. In September 2018, Guyger walked up to Jean's apartment — which was on the fourth floor, directly above hers on the third — and found the door unlocked. She was off duty but still dressed in her police uniform after a long shift when she shot Jean with her service weapon. The 26-year-old accountant had been eating a bowl of ice cream before Guyger entered his home.

Jean, who grew up in the Caribbean island nation of St. Lucia, came to the U.S. for college and starting his career as an accountant. His shooting drew widespread attention because of the strange circumstances and because it was one in a string of shootings of unarmed black men by white police officers.

Guyger was arrested three days after the killing. She was later fired and charged with murder , but only spoke publicly about the shooting upon taking the witness stand last Friday. Tension has been high during the trial in Dallas, the same city where an attack three years ago killed five police officers.

The 31-year-old tearfully apologized for killing Jean and told the jurors she feared for her life upon finding the door to what she though was her apartment unlocked. Guyger said that Jean came toward her at a fast walk when she entered with her gun out, but prosecutors have suggested he was just rising from a couch toward the back of the room when the officer shot him.

In a frantic 911 call played repeatedly during the trial, Guyger said "I thought it was my apartment" nearly 20 times. Her lawyers argued that the identical physical appearance of the apartment complex from floor to floor frequently led to tenants to the wrong apartments.

Prosecutors, however, questioned how Guyger could have missed numerous signs that she was in the wrong place, and suggested she was distracted by sexually explicit phone messages with her police partner.

They also asked why Guyger didn't radio in for help when she thought there was a break-in at her home. Guyger said that going through the doorway with her pistol drawn, "was the only option that went through my head."

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For the latest on the case: https://apnews.com/5300e18b9f934c6f90b02ddbc2e0c53e/

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