Sobbing erupted in a Dallas courtroom Oct. 2 as 18-year-old Brandt Jean offered forgiveness and Christ to Amber Guyger, the woman convicted the day before of murdering his older brother Botham in 2018.
NBC 5 Dallas Fort Worth screen capture
Brandt Jean hugs Amber Guyger in a Dallas County courtroom after she was convicted of killing his older brother Botham. Judge Tammy Kemp wipes away tears.
“I forgive you. And I know if you go to God and ask Him, He will forgive you,” Jean said during the sentencing hearing. “I love you just like anyone else. I’m not going to say I hope you rot and die just like my brother did, but I personally want the best for you. … I think giving your life to Christ would be the best thing that Botham would want you to do.”
A Dallas jury Tuesday unanimously convicted former police officer Guyger of murder for shooting Botham Shem Jean in his apartment Sept. 6, 2018. Guyger had said she mistook Botham’s apartment for her own after her police shift that night, killing the unarmed 26-year-old Church of Christ choir leader because she thought he was an intruder. Her apartment was on another floor.
“I don’t know if it’s possible, but can I give her a hug please, please?” Jean asked Judge Tammy Kemp, who herself was among those crying. “Yes,” Kemp replied, based on a video of the hearing posted at NBC 5 in Dallas-Fort Worth.
Jean and Guyger embraced at length as she cried, the two whispering words not audible on video.
Jean’s mother Allison said her son’s forgiveness was indicative of his upbringing.
“What my son did was a true reflection of what we’ve practiced all our lives. That’s what he’s been taught, to forgive,” she told NBC 5 after a Wednesday worship service at Church of Christ Dallas West where Botham had been a worship leader. “My son (Brandt) is 18 years old, and he will have to live with the loss of his brother for all his life, so he needs to move on. I think that was the beginning of the cleansing and a new beginning.”
Guyger was sentenced to 10 years in prison out of a possible life sentence, Dallas County prosecutor Erin Hendricks told NBC 5, and will be eligible for parole after serving five years. Outside the courthouse, crowds protested and proclaimed the sentence too short. Police were on hand with riot gear but no injuries were reported, NBC 5 reported.
Kemp gave her Bible to Guyger to read in prison.
Jean’s father Bertrum, in his remarks at the sentencing hearing, said his Sundays have changed with his son’s death.
“Sunday is not a good day for me, because I know he would be song leader,” the father said, “because I’m not hearing his voice. … It hurts me that he’s not there.”
Botham, who had worked as a risk assurance associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers, is also survived by a sister Allisa Findley, president of the Botham Jean Foundation formed in his honor.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)