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A Pinellas County man who was convicted of manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a Black man during a convenience store parking lot dispute was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Thursday.

Michael Drejka, 48, was arrested last year and charged with manslaughter in the July 19, 2018 shooting death of 28-year-old Markeis McGlockton, right.

Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Joseph Bulone sentenced Drejka after listening to witness impact statements from McGlockton's family members, including his parents and Britany Jacobs, the mother of his four children.

"The defendant's weakness, his cowardice and his anger are the reasons Markeis is dead," said Jacobs, reading from a prepared statement. "Think about raising four children alone without their daddy. Without Markeis my world can never be whole again," said Jacobs.

She asked Judge Bulone to sentence Drejka to a maximum of 30 years.

Judge Bulone, who described Drejka as a "wannabe cop," refused the defense's request for a lenient sentence such as house arrest.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri initially refused to arrest Drejka, citing Florida's controversial "stand your ground" law that allows licensed gun owners to use deadly force if they feel threatened -- even if the other person is unarmed.

Drejka confronted McGlockton's girlfriend Britany Jacobs for parking in a handicapped spot outside the store. McGlockton, who was unarmed, was shot when he rushed out of the store to defend Jacobs.

Surveillance camera footage shows McGlockton shove Drejka to the ground. Drejka then shot McGlockton in the chest as McGlockton backed away from him.

Black residents complained to police that Drejka, who is white, threatened them and shouted racial slurs after they parked in the same handicapped spot.

Drejka was described as a menace to society who waved his gun at other drivers during road rage incidents.

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CBSDFW News

Judge Tammy Kemp sat down with media outlets to explain why she hugged convicted ex-cop Amber Guyger, and gave her a Bible after her murder trial ended.

The embattled judge didn't just give Guyger any Bible, she went back to her judge's chambers to retrieve her own personal Bible to give the departing killer.

Kemp was criticized by legal experts and the public after she appeared to show bias toward the former Dallas police officer who was convicted of killing 26-year-old accountant Botham Jean in his own apartment last year.

Kemp wiped away tears as she told CNN she thought it would be "rude" not to hug Guyger after she hugged Jean's family members.

She said Guyger asked her, "Do you think God will forgive me?" Kemp said yes and, Guyger added, "'Well, I don't have a Bible. I don't own a Bible, and I don't know where to start.' And I said I will get you a Bible."

“And that's when I went to retrieve my Bible and gave it to her." Kemp also said, "She did tell me she'd bring my Bible back in 10 years."

Kemp said she told Guyger, "Brandt Jean has forgiven you. Please forgive yourself, so you can have a purposeful life. And she asked me, 'Do you think my life can still have a purpose?' And I said, 'I know it can.'"

Kemp said Guyger asked for a hug twice. "I'm embarrassed to say that she had to ask me twice," Kemp told CBSDFW News.

"When I looked at her and saw how she was hurting, of course I agreed to give her a hug."

Kemp responded to the backlash from critics who say she never shows empathy toward Black defendants in court.

"Frankly, I don't think I would be getting this criticism if Miss Guyger were a Black woman," Kemp said. "I hate that we limit our compassion to one race."
 

 

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Law & Crime/YouTube.com

An ethics complaint has been filed against a Dallas, Texas judge who hugged former cop Amber Guyger and gave her a Bible following her guilty verdict on Wednesday.

Guyger, who is white, was found guilty of murder and sentenced to 10 years in prison for fatally shooting 26-year-old accountant Botham Jean, an unarmed Black man who was relaxing in his own apartment when Guyger barged in.

Judge Tammy Kemp fueled outrage when she embraced Guyger in court and handed her a Bible after Guyger was sentenced on Wednesday, Oct. 2.

The judge's actions prompted many to question why Black defendants aren't treated the same way.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation filed an ethics complaint against the judge with the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct on Thursday.

The FFRF group said Kemp went too far by embracing the former cop in court and praying with her before Guyger was shipped off to prison.

The FFRF called Judge Kemp's behavior inappropriate and unconstitutional.

After a victim impact statement by Jean's brother, Brandt Jean, he told Guyger he loved her and embraced her.

Then Kemp embraced Guyger and spoke with her before leaving the courtroom and returning with her personal Bible.

She turned the pages to John 3:16 and told Guyger, "This is where you start." She continued, saying, "He has a purpose for you," referring to God.

In the complaint, the FFRF said Judge Kemp, "Handled a difficult trial with grace" but that she "signaled to everyone watching... that she is partial to Christian reform and Christian notions of forgiveness."

Legal experts have noted that the hug and the Bible could cause a conflict if Guyger files an appeal, which her attorneys have stated she will.

Other legal experts weighed in, saying Kemp's actions bordered on judicial misconduct.

"I did not see why the judge did what she did," said C. Victor Lander, a former municipal judge who spent 27 years behind the bench.

"Once there's an appearance that the judges are not impartial, we lose our entire criminal justice system," Lander said.
 

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Law & Crime/YouTube.com

Legal experts are weighing in on the behavior of a Dallas, Texas judge after a former cop was convicted of shooting her unarmed neighbor in his own apartment.

Guyger, who is white, was found guilty of murder and sentenced to 10 years in prison for fatally shooting 26-year-old accountant Botham Jean, an unarmed Black man who was relaxing in his own apartment when Guyger barged in.

Legal experts say Judge Tammy Kemp, who is Black, demonstrated poor judgment and inappropriate behavior when she left the bench to embrace Guyger and hand her a Bible after the guilty verdict was announced on Tuesday, Oct. 1.

According to The Washington Post, legal experts says a judge hugging a defendant and giving her a Bible was "not only rare but inappropriate."

Kenneth Williams, a professor at the South Texas College of Law in Houston, told The Post: "[Kemp] has indicated an affinity or sympathy for the defendant."

Other legal experts noted that the hug and the Bible could cause a conflict if Guyger files an appeal, which her attorneys have stated she will.

President and Director-Counsel of LDF (NAACP Legal Defense and Educational) Sherrilyn Ifill tweeted that a judge should remain impartial and unbiased in a court of law.

"A judge is not an average citizen. She is not the victim... She must, especially in a case that arouses passion and conflict like this one, stand for impartial justice. She may speak words from the bench. This is too much."

Others noted that Judge Kemp allowed Guyger's defense to use the Castle Doctrine defense, which is usually reserved for homeowners who stand their ground. The Castle Doctrine justifies deadly force when an intruder enters an occupied home.

Kemp also instructed the jurors to consider a "sudden passion" defense while determining Guyger's punishment. The sudden passion defense reduced the sentencing range from 2 to 20 years.
 

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YouTube.com

Black Twitter didn't know what to think after Botham Jean's brother hugged the former Dallas cop who took Jean's life in a deadly case of mistaken identity.

On Tuesday a jury convicted Amber Guyger of murder in the fatal shooting of her upstairs neighbor. She claimed she mistook his apartment for her own after working a 13-hour shift on Sept. 6, 2018.

Prosecutors showed the jury racist text messages and racially offensive memes on Guyger's social media accounts.

Guyger, 31, was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Wednesday, Oct. 2.

During his victim impact testimony, Jean's brother, Brandt Jean told Guyger, who is white, that he forgives her and didn't want her to go to prison. "I love you as a person, and I don't wish anything bad on you," Brandt said.

After his testimony, Brandt gave Guyger an emotional embrace that stunned social media.

There was more odd behavior in the courtroom. A Black bailiff was seen stroking and primping Guyger's hair after her guilty verdict was announced.

Guyger spent her first night in prison on Wednesday.
 

 

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Dallas County Jail

Former Dallas cop Amber Guyger will spend the next 10 years behind bars for fatally shooting her upstairs neighbor Botham Jean, 26.

Guyger, 31, was found guilty of murder on Tuesday, Oct. 1, for fatally shooting Jean in his own apartment on Sept. 6, 2018. The jury didn't buy her claim that she believed he was an intruder in her apartment.

The sentencing phase of Guyger's murder trial began on Tuesday afternoon.

Prosecutors showed jurors racist text messages and social media memes by Guyger.

One text message was in reference to the Jan. 15, 2018 Martin Luther King Jr. holiday parade in Dallas, according to ABC affiliate WFAA 8 News.

"When does this end lol," a fellow cop texted Guyger.

"When MLK is dead… oh wait…" she responded.

"Just push them… or spray your pepper spray in that general area," she wrote, referring to the majority Black crowd at the parade.

Prosecutors had asked jurors to sentence Guyger to at least 28 years — symbolic because Jean would have turned 28 last Sunday, according to NBC News.

Guyger did not testify during the sentencing phase.

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Dallas County Jail

Former Dallas cop Amber Guyger was convicted of murder in the fatal shooting of her neighbor, Botham Jean, in his own home.

A new mugshot was taken when Guyger was booked into the Dallas County Jail on Tuesday, following her conviction.

She will be held in jail until her sentencing hearing. She will then be transported to prison. The former cop was not allowed to post bond while her attorneys appeal her conviction.

The sentencing phase of Guyger's murder trial began on Tuesday afternoon.

Jurors heard from Jean's still-grieving mother and sister, who talked about his good character, his strong religious upbringing, and his life of service to others.

Prosecutors showed jurors racist text messages and social media posts written by Guyger, 31.

One text message was in reference to the Jan. 15, 2018 Martin Luther King Jr. holiday parade in Dallas, according to ABC affiliate WFAA 8 News.

"When does this end lol," a fellow cop texted Guyger.

"When MLK is dead… oh wait…" she responded.

"Just push them… or spray your pepper spray in that general area," she wrote, referring to the majority Black crowd at the parade.

In another text exchange, dated Sept. 4, 2018, someone texted Guyger about adopting a German Shepherd.

"Although she may be racist," the dog’s owner messaged Guyger.

"It's okay.. I'm the same," Guyger responded.

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WFAA.com

The jury will take Guyger's racist texts into consideration when deciding her punishment. Jurors will consider whether her racism was a factor when she shot Jean in cold blood in his apartment on Sept. 6, 2018.

Guyger faces a maximum of 99 years behind bars.

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Amber Guyger was found guilty of murder on Tuesday for fatally shooting her neighbor, Botham Jean, after she claimed she thought he was an intruder in her own apartment.

A jury of her own peers convicted the 31-year-old former cop after deliberating on Tuesday, Oct. 1.

Jean, a 26-year-old accountant at PricewaterhouseCoopers, was sitting on his sofa eating ice cream when Guyger entered his apartment and opened fire.

Her attorney claimed she was tired after working a 13-hour shift. But the prosecutor said she was distracted by steamy text messages from her police officer boyfriend.

In tearful testimony on the witness stand, Guyger claimed she feared for her life after Jean refused to obey her orders to raise his hands.

She said he yelled, "Hey hey hey!" And she fired twice to neutralize the perceived threat.

But the jury didn't buy her tears.

Guyger broke down and cried again when the guilty verdict was read.

Jean's family celebrated in the hall outside the courtroom, as supporters cheered, "It's a new day!"

The jury was given three options: murder, manslaughter (which carried the lightest sentence), or acquittal.

Guyger faces 99 years in prison when she is sentenced on Tuesday.

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