AUSTIN (AP) – Prosecutors who secured a death penalty conviction of a 26-year-old man in the slaying of an Austin police office told jurors time and again that the killer expressed no remorse for the shooting.
Travis County jurors were reminded during the capital murder trial and the penalty phase that Brandon Daniel was not sorry for the death of officer Jaime Padron.
Jurors were told he remained a danger to others.
Witnesses to the shooting at an Austin Wal-Mart testified that Daniel at one point said, “I killed a cop,” and laughed.
The jury after eight hours of deliberation condemned Daniel to death Friday for the April 2012 killing of Padron. The jury had the option of sentencing Daniel to life imprisonment without parole.
Austin police Chief Art Acevedo was in court Friday along with a large contingent of law enforcement officers.
The Austin American-Statesman reports the prosecution’s portrayal of Daniel as a calculating, remorseless killer was answered by the defense’s claim that he’s a brilliant computer scientist with a history of depression and suicidal tendencies.
Defense attorney Russell Hunt Jr. told jurors that Daniel was under the influence of the anti-anxiety drug Xanax when Padron was shot, and said his mental state had been deteriorating. Hunt argued that with proper medication and a structured environment Daniel could contribute to society.
“We tried to bring you the answer as to why such a young person with a bright future fell so quickly,” Hunt said.
Contrary to the prosecution’s argument, Daniel had told a former girlfriend in a letter that he was “unbelievably remorseful” for what he did to Padron and his family, the defense team said.
Employees of the Wal-Mart store called police after seeing Daniel stumble through the aisles.
Daniel ran when Padron approached him. Padron tackled him and the two struggled before Daniel pulled a handgun and shot Padron at close range.
Jurors took only an hour Feb. 21 to convict Daniel of the killing.
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