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Mystery Surrounds Murder of Witness in Amber Guyger Trial

Dallas mayor asks public to 'refrain from speculation'
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 7, 2019 12:30 PM CDT
Mayor on Murder of Amber Guyger Witness: 'Refrain From Speculation'
In this Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019, photo, victim Botham Jean's neighbor Joshua Brown, left, answers questions from Assistant District Attorney LaQuita Long, right, while testifying during the murder trial of former Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger, in Dallas.   (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News via AP, Pool)

(Newser) – A key witness for the prosecution in Amber Guyger's murder trial was shot and killed days after the former Dallas cop was convicted and sentenced—but the city's mayor has a simple request for anyone whose mind is in overdrive right now: "Refrain from speculation." Those were the words from Mayor Eric Johnson on Twitter, where he assured residents that the police department would "conduct a thorough investigation" into Joshua Brown's death and asked anyone with information to come forward: "Dallas will never be a city that tolerates acts of violence such as this." Guyger was on Wednesday sentenced to 10 years for fatally shooting Botham Jean in his apartment after she mistook it for her own home. More of the latest:

  • Police chief U. Renee Hall so far has no suspects in Brown's murder, the Guardian reports, and she says police have not yet established a motive. Brown lived in the same apartment complex as Guyger and Jean, but was killed late Friday in the parking lot of a different complex to which he had moved about three months after Jean was killed. Jean family lawyer S. Lee Merritt said on Instagram that Brown, 28, "was ambushed at his apartment complex as he got out of his car and shot at close range. His mother asked that I do whatever it takes to get to the bottom of his murder. She suspects foul play and it is difficult to rule it out. He had no known enemies. He worked for a living. He was not in the streets. We need answers."

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  • On CBS This Morning Monday, Merritt said Brown was already concerned someone was after him. "He had been shot less than a year ago [in Dallas] and someone standing near him was killed," Merritt said. (CNN puts this shooting at November 2018, after Jean was killed.) "He was reluctant to testify in this case because he had been shot at and he thought some people might want to do harm to him." He says Brown planned to testify again at a civil trial after Jean's family sued the city of Dallas.
  • Though Merritt acknowledged on the show that it's not clear whether there is a connection between Brown's murder and Guyger's trial, officials should have done more to protect him: "If he had concerns for his safety, then the city, the county had an obligation to ensure that those concerns were met." As the Dallas News reports, there is rampant "public speculation" that there is a connection. Merritt says he is not aware of specific threats to Brown over his participation in the trial, but knows he was often called a "snitch" in comments posted online due to his cooperation with the state.
  • During Brown's emotional testimony at Guyger's trial, he said he heard what CNN describes as "brief and frantic" words between Jean and Guyger just before shots rang out. He said, per NBC, that he did not hear Guyger shouting any police commands before shooting, but noted that it was difficult to tell what was being said.
  • "I just spoke with Joshua Browns mother. She is devastated. We all are," Merritt tweeted Saturday. He tells CNN of Brown's mother, "[she] knows that her son was really bothered by the fact that he was given a lot of exposure from the trial, a lot of unwanted attention."
(Read more Amber Guyger stories.)

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