The attorneys for the former Dallas police officer charged with the murder of a man in his own apartment filed for a change of venue for her trial on Monday.
In a scathing and lengthy court filing, Amber Guyger’s attorneys said “media hysteria” led them to ask for the case to be moved out of Dallas County. It called coverage by local and national outlets “pervasive, prejudicial, and inflammatory” and “replete with falsehoods and speculation.” The filing also singled out former Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson, accusing her of “malfeasance.”
Guyger shot and killed Botham Jean in his own apartment in September 2018. She claims she walked into the wrong apartment and shot him mistakenly, thinking he was an intruder in her apartment.
Jury selection has been set for Sept. 6, 2019, in Dallas County. But it’s long been believed that Guyger’s lawyers would try to move the trial out of Dallas. Her legal team would like the trial moved to either Collin, Grayson, Kaufman, Ellis, Rockwall or Fannin County.
Monday’s court filing makes clear Guyger’s lawyers will try to make hay of the heavy media coverage of the shooting, which they believe has been unfair and tainted a potential jury pool.
Among the targets: The Dallas Morning News and ABC’s "The View."
Guyger’s lawyers call the Dallas newspaper “a presumably reputable media-outlet.” They also spend several pages cataloging discussion about the shooting on "The View" by co-host Whoopi Goldberg, calling her comments “inflammatory and utter nonsense.”
In total, more than six pages of the filing were links to online stories from various media outlets – including FOX4.
The filing also claims that Johnson spearheaded some of the coverage, which the attorneys claim is “government interference with a defendant’s rights under the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments.”
Beto O'Rourke and his 2018 race for the U.S. Senate made an appearance in the motion, as well. Guyger’s attorneys say “O'Rourke entered the fray during ‘Betomania’ ... and perpetrated the false-narrative that defendant (Guyger) shot Mr. Jean because he is black and called for defendant's firing.”
Attorney Anthony Farmer, not involved in the case, said the change of venue request wasn’t unexpected.
“I’m not surprised in the fact that there’s been so much vitriol in the community, in Dallas, Dallas County as a whole,” Farmer said. But he believes a fair trial can take place without it being moved away.
“With these high publicity cases they're often tried in the media, unfortunately. I don’t think there’s been anything done or said that would prohibit her or preclude her from getting a fair trial.”
Judge Tammy Kemp will review the change of venue request and make a ruling within the next few weeks. If the trial remains in Dallas County, it is set to begin on September 23, 2019.