The ex-lover and police partner of former Dallas cop Amber Guyger has admitted they had a relationship and exchanged sexually explicit texts and photos on the day she shot dead her black neighbor.
Martin Rivera took to the stand during Guyger’s murder trial in Dallas on Monday where he was questioned by prosecutors about their relationship.
Guyger, 31, is on trial for the fatal shooting of 26-year-old Botham Jean last year after she said she mistakenly entered his apartment thinking it was her own.
Prosecutors said Guyger was on the phone with Rivera for 16 minutes as she headed back to to her apartment that night in September 2018.
They told jurors that Guyger and Rivera had plans to meet up later that night.
Rivera, however, denied during his testimony that he had made any plans to rendezvous with Guyger later that night.
Martin Rivera took to the stand during Amber Guyger’s murder trial in Dallas on Monday where he was questioned by prosecutors about their relationship
Prosecutors argue that Guyger was distracted by her phone conversation with Rivera when she mistook Jean’s apartment for hers and entered, believed him to be an intruder and shot him.
When questioned about what their lengthy phone call was about, Rivera said he believes it was mostly about police work but his memory of the call was hazy.
Prosecutors had earlier revealed that the two had exchanged sexually explicit messages and images earlier that day.
She also allegedly sent two text messages to her partner while she was simultaneously on the phone to 911 as Jean was bleeding to death on his floor.
Prosecutors said that after Guyger shot Jean, she deleted the logs of her text exchanges with Rivera from her cellphone.
Rivera said he didn’t not know why she had done that but admitted that he had also deleted their text exchanges.
In his opening statement, defense attorney Robert Rogers dismissed the relevance of Jean’s death to Guyger’s sexual relationship with her partner as ‘preposterous’.
Dallas County assistant district attorney Jason Hermus told jurors that Guyger had worked a long day but that it was primarily office work during her 13.5 hour shift.
Assistant District Attorney Jason Hermus showed Martin Rivera copies of the texts and Snapchat messages he had sent Guyger on the day of the shooting. He admitted to deleting these messages in the wake of the shooting
Amber Guyger, 31, shot dead 26-year-old Botham Shem Jean exactly a year ago after allegedly mistakenly entering his apartment thinking it was her own
He said there was no evidence that Jean ever posed a threat to Guyger.
Hermus called Jean ‘a wonderful, decent, kind man’ and said that he was eating a bowl of vanilla ice cream when Guyger entered his apartment.
Prosecutors tried to poke holes in Guyger’s argument that she thought she had entered her own apartment and that Jean was an intruder.
Hermus pointed out that the view from the parking garage was different, the door numbers were wrong and that Jean had a bright red door mat outside his apartment.
He told the jury that when Guyger got to her apartment complex, she parked on the fourth floor instead of the third floor, where she had lived for two months.
When she arrived at what she thought was her unit, she failed to notice the bright red semi-circle welcome mat in front of Jean’s apartment, he said.
Jean’s apartment was also unlocked, messy and smelled of marijuana, three more signs that should have tipped Guyger off that it was not her apartment, Hermus said.
Despite the clues, she still burst through the door and opened fire, striking Jean once in the chest as he watched television and ate a bowl of vanilla ice cream.
‘He was in the sanctuary of his home doing no harm to anyone,’ Hermus said. ‘There he lie on his back in his home bleeding to death alone with his killer.’
Guyger’s attorney rejected the prosecution argument that there were unique signs that would have signaled to her that she was on the wrong floor.
A crowd of Botham Jean’s family gathered outside the courtroom on Monday on the opening day of Guyger’s murder trial
Dallas County assistant district attorney Jason Hermus showed the bright red doormat that was outside Jean’s apartment. In comparison, he said Guyger did not have any doormat as he argued that she should have noticed it wasn’t her apartment
In fact, he said, the identical look of the apartment complex from floor to floor often led to confusion among tenants, with dozens regularly parking on the wrong floor or attempting to enter the wrong apartment.
Rogers said the floors of the parking garage were not clearly marked so it was understandable when Guyger, tired from a long shift, pushed open a door and believed an intruder was inside.
Guyger ‘was on autopilot,’ he said of her entrance to Jean’s apartment. ‘She had tunnel vision.’
The case has attracted intense scrutiny for its strange circumstances and as one in a chain of shootings of black men by white police officers.
The case may hang on whether the jury believes that this was a reasonable mistake. Twelve jurors and four alternatives were selected to hear the case earlier this month but their demographics aren’t yet public.
Guyger was off duty but still in uniform when she shot Jean in his home on the evening of September 6, 2018.
She told investigators that after a 15-hour shift she parked on the fourth floor of her apartment complex’s garage – rather than the third floor where she lived – and found the apartment’s door ajar.
Believing she was at her own apartment and seeing a silhouette of a figure who didn’t respond to verbal commands, Guyger said she fired two shots, killing him.
‘I thought it was my apartment,’ she said nearly 20 times in a 911 emergency call as she waited for emergency responders to arrive.
‘I’m an off-duty officer. I thought I was in my apartment and I shot a guy thinking he was, thinking it was my apartment.’
Guyger told investigators she mistakenly entered the apartment of Jean, which was one floor above her own, when she returned home from work on the evening of September 6, 2018
Guyger was off duty but still in uniform when she shot Jean in his home (above) on the evening of September 6, 2018
Throughout the five-minute phone call, Guyger cursed and cried.
‘I’m f****d. Oh my God. I’m sorry,’ she could be heard saying.
Throughout the call, she also spoke to Jean, called him ‘bud’ and encouraged him to stay alive.
Prosecutors are expected to grill Guyger on how and why she mistook Jean’s fourth floor apartment for her own on the third floor.
Guyger was only arrested 72 hours later and then charged with just manslaughter.
It sparked anger in the African-American community, which saw the case as potentially another one of a white police officer getting off lightly for killing a black man.
The department took two weeks to fire Guyger despite charging her with manslaughter after Botham’s death.
Following the backlash and a grand jury investigation, Guyger was charged with first-degree murder. The charge is punishable under Texas law with up to life in prison.
The jury will have to decide whether Guyger committed murder, a lesser offense such as manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide, or no crime at all.
Jean was a native of St. Lucia who worked in Dallas for an accounting and consulting firm.
He had come to the US in 2011 after winning a place at Harding University in Arkansas.
He studied business administration and accounting and management and graduated in 2016. PwC hired him out of college as a risk assurance associate.