A software engineer on death row in the 2012 fatal shooting of Austin police officer Jaime Padron has been found dead in his death row cell in Texas, officials said on Sunday.
Authorities are investigating the death of Brandon Daniel, 33, according to a statement from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. However, officials said foul play does not appear to be the cause.
TDCJ spokesperson Robert Hurst said that at 4:25 a.m. on Saturday, a correctional officer from Livingston’s Polunsky unit was conducting security rounds when he found Daniel “unconscious on his bunk. entered the cell and determined he was not breathing.
Medics arrived at the bunk shortly after, but Daniel was pronounced dead at 5:10 a.m., the statement said. As with all deaths of a person in prison not treated by a doctor, the Office of the Inspector General will investigate and an autopsy will be performed.
Daniel shot and killed Padron on April 6, 2012, as the two struggled on the floor of a Wal-Mart near Interstate 35 and East Parmer Lane in North Austin. Padron, a Navy veteran and father of two daughters, had responded to complaints from store workers about a possibly drunk shoplifter.
Daniel was quickly arrested and police found a magazine with six hollow point bullets in his pocket and $ 57 worth of food, alcohol and other store items in his backpack.
At the downtown police headquarters, in a videotaped interview, Daniel told homicide detectives he entered the store with the intention of stealing vegetables but tried to escape when he saw the policeman. At least three times, according to witnesses, he admitted: “I killed a cop.
Jurors deliberated for an hour before finding Daniel guilty of capital murder in February 2014, and then only needed eight hours of discussion before sentencing the former software engineer to death.
The following year, Daniel sent State District Judge Brenda Kennedy a letter asking her to drop her appeals.
“I want justice done and I think the punishment is appropriate for my crime,” he wrote. “We are both interested in saving taxpayers’ money, the time of everyone involved, and saving my family and the victim’s family more anguish than necessary. And finally, I would like my prison sentence to be as short as possible. “
But Daniel’s calls continued. Most recently, in 2018, the United States Supreme Court dismissed his appeal without comment after lawyers for Daniel argued that Kennedy had improperly communicated with jurors, among other allegations.
He also said his lawyers during the trial had acted improperly by lacking evidence that Daniel was autistic. The diagnosis could have explained what prosecutors called Daniel’s lack of remorse and his use of drugs and alcohol to heal himself, giving jurors a reason to choose life in prison instead of capital punishment, according to the call.
No execution date had been set for Daniel.
A North Austin elementary school was named after Padron, who had been an Austin officer for three years but worked for the San Angelo Police Department for 14 years.