North Texas faith leaders were among those with strong reactions to the guilty verdict in the Amber Guyger murder trial. Some gathered Tuesday night on the steps of the Frank Crowley Courts Building in Dallas – the courthouse where the trial’s been taking place.
And some are wondering about what prison sentence the jury will hand down.
Michael Waters is a pastor at the Joy Tabernacle and Agape Temple AME churches. He's grateful the jury found Guyger guilty of murder. He calls the verdict appropriate.
The punishment phase of the trial started Tuesday afternoon -- and it resumes Wednesday morning. Guyger faces between five to 99 years in prison.
Waters hopes that Guyger, the white former Dallas police officer, goes to prison for more than 15 years for fatally shooting Botham Jean, who was black.
That’s the sentence that former Balch Springs officer Roy Oliver got last year for killing 15 year-old Jordan Edwards. Oliver’s white; Edwards was black.
“Our prayers are with the jury that they give a sentence that is appropriate for the crime,” Waters said. “It must have some weight. It must not be a slap in the face to this family or the community.”
Waters said the nation’s eyes are looking to see Dallas do the right thing.
With him on the courthouse steps was Imam Omar Suleiman. He says a guilty verdict cannot bring Jean back, or ease the pain felt by his family. He invited jurors to think deeply about what they must do now.
“If the roles had been reversed,” Suleiman asks, “what would we be talking about if Botham was the officer and Amber was sitting on her living room couch?”
Suleiman hopes they keep that in mind when they determine Amber Guyger’s prison sentence.