The expert witness list has been publicly released in the murder trial of a former Dallas Police Officer who shot and killed a man in his own apartment after mistaking him for an intruder.
On September 16, 2018, Amber Guyger, 30, was off-duty but in her police uniform when she shot and killed Botham Jean, 26, as he sat and watched football in his apartment. Guyger said that she mistook his apartment for hers and thought that he was an intruder.
Guyger was fired from the Dallas Police Department and was charged with murder. If convicted, she faces five years to life in prison.
Guyger’s trial is scheduled to begin on September 23 of this year in a Texas state district court that is presided over by District Judge Tammy Kemp.
Jean’s death received coverage by the international news media. Guyger’s attorneys now say that she cannot get a fair trial in Dallas because of the inflammatory and prejudicial nature of the media coverage. Judge Kemp has signed a gag order that prevents defense attorneys and prosecutors from commenting publicly on the case while she is deciding whether to move the trial.
Expert Witness List
While the attorneys for each side cannot speak about the case, the state’s expert witness list has become a public record. This list offers some insight into the type of information that the prosecutors have and the evidence that they plan to present at trial.
The state’s expert witness list contains 25 names. The expert witnesses include forensic video analysts, cell phone data experts, and crime scene reconstruction experts.
Former Judge David Finn examined the list and said that the presence of a forensic video analyst means that the prosecution likely has video evidence that they would like to play for the jury. He said, “That would indicate to me that the prosecution has a video or videos that they want to play for the jury. … And they want an expert to come in and say, ‘This is the real deal. It hasn’t been altered.’”
The state’s expert witness list names a company called Cellebrite as a potential expert. Cellebrite is a company that is known for unlocking cell phone data. Finn explained that law enforcement agencies frequently use Cellebrite because they are experts in this area.
The state expert list also includes crime scene reconstruction experts who often testify in officer-involved shootings.
Former judge Finn opined that this trial will likely be a battle of experts. He said, “In a jury trial like this where there are only two witnesses and one of them is deceased, you’re gonna rely on experts to reconstruct the crime scene.”
Finn explained that “The state’s gonna have crime scene reconstruction experts that are gonna say one thing” — the defense team “will have experts to say, ‘Not so fast. There’s another side to this coin.’ So you’re gonna have the jury giving conflicting information as experts.”