"God is good. Trust him," declared Allison Jean Tuesday after a Dallas County jury convicted ex-police officer Amber Guyger of murder for fatally shooting her son, Botham Jean, in his apartment last year.
The verdict which was reached shortly after 10:30 a.m., according to The Dallas Morning News, also triggered cheers in the hallway outside the courtroom where the late worship leader’s family and friends celebrated.
“We the Jury unanimously find the defendant Amber Guyger guilty of murder as charged in the indictment,” the judge declared while warning “no outbursts” as a muted celebration could be heard off camera.
Allison Jean could also been heard saying, “Oh, thank God. Thank God,” as she was shown worshiping inside the courtroom with her hands lifted high.
Botham Jean’s sister sobbed as his mother declared “God is good” as she raised her fist in the air, The New York Times said.
Guyger, 31, fatally shot Botham Jean, 26, in his apartment in 2018. She claimed that she mistook his apartment for her own and thought Jean was a burglar. She is the first Dallas officer convicted of murder since the 1970s, The Dallas Morning News said, which was a surprise for many tracking the case.
“I’m relieved,” the Rev. Frederick Haynes, senior pastor at Friendship-West Baptist Church since 1983 and a longtime African-American leader in Dallas told The Dallas Morning News. “Given the history in this country it is surprising.”
Haynes noted, however, that based on the evidence presented in the case, “I would have been shocked if she’d been found not guilty. The message here is ‘justice for all’ and not just for some.”
At the trial, the jury heard testimony from neighbors about how often they got lost and wound up "on the wrong floor of the South Side Flats where Guyger and Jean lived," The Dallas Morning News added.
Dallas City Council member Adam Bazaldua, who represents South Dallas and parts of East Dallas, the city had been planning for demonstrations around the verdict regardless of the outcome, but he was pleased by the decision.
“I am very pleased with the verdict and the outcome of this case,” he told the Morning News. “I have watched our city become divided in this conversation over the past year, and I’m really hopeful that this verdict and justice will help us ... move forward as a united city.”
Guyger now faces five to 99 years or life in prison. The charge is not eligible for probation.
Botham Jean graduated from Harding University, a private Christian university in Searcy, Arkansas, in 2016 with a degree in accounting and management information systems. At the time of his death he was working at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Dallas where he was only recently hired after an internship with the company.
During his time at Harding, he had become known through his frequent leadership in worship at chapel and campus events, university officials said. The university's student publication said he was a member of the a cappella group Good News Singers, the Harding University Rugby Athletic Club and men's social club Sub T-16.
His love for singing continued at Dallas West Church of Christ where he was serving as the worship leader at the time of his death.