(CNN) — A day after a jury found former Dallas policewoman Amber Guyger guilty of murdering Botham Jean, Jean’s close friend shared stories of his love for sports and God and wept over a text message she never sent to him.
Alexis Stossel met Jean her junior year at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas. They became best friends after they were appointed to sit on a business school advisory board, she testified Wednesday during the sentencing phase of Guyger’s trial.
The hearing began shortly after Tuesday’s verdict, in which jurors found Guyger, 31, guilty — despite the ex-officer’s defense that she mistakenly walked into the wrong apartment and opened fire because she thought Jean was an intruder. Jean lived on the floor directly above Guyger.
“Next to my husband, Botham was my absolute person,” Stossel said, explaining that before she got married, she told her would-be spouse, “I love you, but this man is going to be in my life forever, and he’s going to be a part of us forever.”
Her husband, Jacob, and Jean shared an interest in the NBA and became friends themselves after Stossel and Jean moved to Texas following graduation. She would joke that she was their third wheel, she testified.
‘I slumped to the floor’
Jean called Stossel “Big Tex” because of her height. He insisted that she call him “her black friend, Botham,” she said, laughing at the memory.
“People gravitated towards him,” Stossel said of Jean. “It didn’t matter if you didn’t know him personally or you were just in the same room, you just felt welcomed by his presence.”
Stossel and Jean had a Tuesday night routine, where they’d go to church, take notes, then go out to dinner afterward and compare notes. Once on a road trip to a friend’s wedding in Nashville, they discussed the meaning of success, she said.
“He just really believed that success was your impact on people and how you helped people,” she said.
When she moved to Kilgore with her husband, she was sad to leave her friend, but Jean encouraged her and told her she’d miss every shot she didn’t take.
“No matter where you and Jacob are, I would give up a limb for y’all. Maybe two. Your black friend Bo,” he wrote.
On September 6, 2018, the day he died, the two spoke of Jean visiting Kilgore and shared photos from Dallas and Harding. She told Jean she was getting emotional “because I’m a girl.” He texted back “LOL,” but she didn’t see it until the next day — shortly before she learned Jean was dead.
“I slumped to the floor and I just kept screaming, ‘Wait, wait, wait, wait.’ I hung up the phone and then I called Botham seven times and there was no answer,” she said, weeping. “If I had just seen the text message, if I had just expanded that ‘I’m thankful for you all the time,’ maybe it would be a little less painful.”
Mother celebrates and takes stand
Stossel’s testimony came the day after Allison Jean, Botham’s mother, took the stand hours after raising her hands in jubilation when the guilty finding was announced.
Jean and her daughter described how losing Botham had upended their lives.
“My life has not been the same,” Allison Jean said. “It’s just been like a roller coaster.”
Guyger testified that after working long hours September 6, 2018, she returned to her apartment complex. In uniform but off duty, she approached what she thought was her apartment. She noticed the door was ajar, found a man inside and fired her service weapon, killing him.
She was actually at the apartment directly above hers, which belonged to the 26-year-old accountant from St. Lucia. Jean was on the couch, watching TV and eating vanilla ice cream when Guyger walked in, prosecutors said.
On the phone with a 911 operator that night, Guyger said 19 times she thought she had been in her apartment.
Guyger was initially charged with manslaughter, but a grand jury later indicted her for murder. The Dallas Police Department fired her. She faces up to life in prison on the murder conviction.
‘I cannot sleep. I cannot eat’
Wearing red — her son’s favorite color — Allison Jean fought back tears as she described the day she learned her son had been fatally shot.
“I was in New York with my daughter at 12:13 a.m. on September 7th when she came to inform me that she had gotten a call and that somebody told her that Botham was shot, that he died,” she said.
She added, “I cannot sleep. I cannot eat. It’s just been the most terrible time for me. ”
Allison Jean talked about how Botham, the middle child, was “the glue” that kept her three children together.
“I have to tried to keep that family together because everybody’s in pain,” she said, adding that she goes to therapy weekly. “We have a simple life, one of faith and that’s how we raised our children.”
She would have preferred that Botham remained at home for his studies, she said, but he wanted to attend Harding, a private Christian school where he became president of the student council, sang in a choir and led community service missions to St. Lucia.