DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The lead investigator of the case for the Texas Rangers took the stand Wednesday during the murder trial of Amber Guyger and described how the layout of her apartment complex could be seen as confusing.
Trooper David Armstrong also said that he doesn’t believe the former Dallas officer committed a crime when she shot and killed Botham Jean inside his apartment after thinking it was her unit and that he was an intruder. However, this was said outside the presence of the jury. Judge Tammy Kemp ruled the jury would not be allowed to hear it.
Although Armstrong is technically a prosecution witness, he supported defense claims that the former Dallas officer could have easily been confused about the layout of the South Side Flats, where the shooting took place.
A neighbor at the Southside Flats apartments, Whitney Hughes, testified, like Guyger, she two had walked to an apartment on the wrong floor before, confusing it for her own.
Armstrong testified that he did a survey of tenants at the apartment complex where Guyger and Jean lived and found that 23% of those tenants had accidentally walked into the wrong apartment because of the layout. He confirmed the hallways of the complex are similar, as well as the parking garage.
There is an open-air side to the garage on the fourth level, where Guyger parked that Sept. 6, 2018 evening, but she had backed her pickup truck into that parking space.
Armstrong also told the jury that Jean’s door was poorly installed and often would not close all the way. The jury was shown videos that supported his claim.
“On multiple occasions, the door would close all the way and the door would also not completely close depending on the distance. And we were just letting go of the door not using any force and sometimes it would close all the way sometimes it wouldn’t, depending on the distance,” Armstrong said.
Armstrong later said, while the jury wasn’t present, that he didn’t believe Guyger committed a crime and that her actions were consistent with her story. He said it was a “reasonable perception” that Guyger saw Jean as an intruder.
Earlier in the morning before Armstrong took the stand, one of the jurors had disclosed that they once had a professional relationship with the trooper who was testifying. After being questioned by the judge and attorneys, that juror was allowed to remain on the panel.
Late Wednesday afternoon, the jury saw graphic autopsy photos of Botham Jean.
Jean’s father cupped his ears and turned to face the wall. Jean’s mother began to sob and walked out.
Judge Tammy Kemp said, “I am so sorry. I didn’t even give it any thought.”
She apologized for reviewing that video without warning Jean’s family first.
It’s something they had expressed they couldn’t bear to witness.
A photo of the gun used was offered as evidence as well as another of Guyger taken of her in uniform after the shooting.
Prosecutors pointed out she had a taser on her belt in addition to a gun.