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Botham Jean's Family Hosts Gala In His Honor, Speaks For First Time Since Trial Began

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) — At a gala for the Botham Jean Foundation — on what would have been his 28th birthday — Jean's family spoke publicly for the first time since the trial began for the former Dallas Police officer indicted for his murder.

"When I woke up this morning, it was very emotional because the first call I would have made this morning would have been to Botham to wish him a happy birthday," Jean's mother, Allison, said.

His family was making plans for his birthday last year, when Allisa Findley, received the news her brother had been shot and killed in his own apartment.

Celebrating his birthday now a year later in a ballroom with more than 300 people feels bittersweet.

"I could see him all over the room. He would have been taking over everything," she said of her social brother.

Organizers said "The Red Tie Event" raised at least $50,000 for the foundation Jean's family started in his name. It's helped fund organizations Jean worked with in his home country of St. Lucia and provided scholarships for students to attend Harding University, where he went to school.

"We are looking for causes that he would feel passionate about. We're taking the lead from what he already started doing," Findley said.

Jean's family said they'd already chosen the date for the fundraiser when they learned it would coincide with the trial of Amber Guyger.

"It is a very, very challenging time for us," his mother said. "Botham was my world. I loved him. I love him still. And so, I would never let him down by missing a day in the courtroom. It's very difficult during the times when they're playing the body cam footage and the crime scene photographs and so on. But I want to see and hear everything that is happening in the courtroom because I'm standing for him."

Her only hope is that jurors see the case as she does.

"We're hoping this week, we'll get a big gift for Botham — and that will be justice for him," she said.

The trial will be back in session Monday morning, when the defense is expected to rest its case.

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