Friday 21 September, 2018

Manslaughter or murder? Botham’s killer may get stronger charge

The tragic killing of promising young St Lucian Botham Jean has elicited strong reactions from many people reckoning with such an unthinkable event.

Jean was killed in his own apartment by white female police officer Amber Guyger who says that she mistook Jean’s apartment for her own. Jean’s autopsy revealed his death to be a homicide as a result of “gun shot wound to the chest and abdomen.”

Although the killing took place on Thursday, Guyger was arrested on a charge of manslaughter on Sunday evening and released on a $300,000 bond. Many took to social media to angrily question why Guyger had been charged with manslaughter and not murder.

According to the Texas Penal Code manslaughter is when a person "recklessly causes the death of another individual." It is a second-degree felony which is punishable by two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

Murder on the other hand is when a person "intentionally or knowingly causes the death of an individual," or "intends to cause serious bodily injury and commits an act clearly dangerous to human life that causes the death of an individual." In Texas first-degree (capital) murder can be punished by death or life without possibility of parole while second-degree murder carries a punishment of between “five and 99 years in a state prison and/or a fine of no more than $10,000.”

The Associated Press reports: "The Dallas County district attorney says her office will present the case of a police officer who fatally shot a neighbor to a grand jury, which could decide that a stronger charge than manslaughter is warranted.

District Attorney Faith Johnson said at a news conference Monday that her office will first collect all of the evidence it can surrounding Thursday's fatal shooting of 26-year-old Botham Jean by Dallas police Officer Amber Guyger.”

Johnson said that she had “a full, spirited conversation with the Texas Rangers” for almost two hours before Guyger was arrested on the manslaughter charge. The Rangers took over from the Dallas Police Department in the view of achieving independence considering the officer in question belongs to that entity. Despite the manslaughter charge the DA reiterated that, “the grand jury will be that entity that will make the final decision in terms of the charge or charges that will come out of this case."