Brandon Daniel found guilty of capital murder



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Posted on February 21, 2014 at 1:17 PM

Updated Sunday, Feb 23 at 7:06 PM

AUSTIN -- A Travis County jury has found Brandon Daniel guilty of capital murder in the death of Austin Police Senior Officer Jaime Padron.

Jurors deliberated for about an hour following closing arguments Friday.

Brandon Daniel remained expressionless as the guilty verdict was read. His family members quickly left the courtroom without comment.

But friends and family of Padron said the outcome is a relief.

“I can say for myself, as well as the family, we’re very very pleased the outcome of this trial. I believe justice was served," said San Angelo Police Sgt. Matt Baldwin.

Baldwin worked with Padron for 13 years and is a close friend of the family.

“What a wonderful man. What a tragic, tragic event this was, for such a guy to be taken from us," he said.

Baldwin described Padron as a man who made a difference in others lives.

“His ability to take you in as a complete stranger and make you feel like you were one of his own family," he said. "He treated everyone with respect and dignity, and his love for life he transferred to everybody he came in contact with.”

The verdict was not unexpected to many, including the defense.
"Obviously, on a case like this with the kind of evidence that they had, it wasn't surprising to us," said attorney Brad Urrutia.

Now Daniel's defense attorneys are turning their focus to sentencing.

"A lot of our witnesses will be aimed towards focusing on him and his life and give a complete picture of him that, quite frankly, nobody's got to see until now," Urrutia said.

Jurors have two options for sentencing: life without parole or the death penalty.  Urrutia said he expects that phase to last through next Friday.

Before the trial went to the jury, a final witness was called by the defense team Friday morning. He is an addiction specialist who has interviewed Daniel and believes Daniel was addicted to Xanax the night Padron was killed.

Dr. Matthew Masters told the jury the reason why many people enjoy the high of Xanax is because it has a short half-life, meaning it takes you up fast and brings you down fast and in between, "delivers quite a punch."

The doctor also testified that it is similar to alcohol in that it can affect everyone differently.

Masters says Xanax also causes antrograde amnesia, meaning events after the drug is taken can often be forgotten. However, the drug use may not effect muscle memory. In this case Daniel could drive his motorcycle, but as shown in the surveillance video, he was stuttering and stammering through conversations and while walking.

The doctor testified he met with Daniel since the shooting, listened to a portion of his taped statement to police, and looked at lab reports following his arrest. He said that a level of 100 nanogrades per milliliter would cause intoxication in an average user. Daniel's blood work showed he had a level of 160 seven hours after the shooting.

Daniel pleaded "not guilty" to the capital murder charge late last year. His attorneys told the court Daniel offered to take a sentence of life without parole, but prosecutors did not accept that offer.

Padron served with the Austin Police Department for three years. He spent 14 years with the San Angelo Police Department. He was also a Marine Corps veteran. Padron left behind two young daughters.

Daniel's sentencing starts Monday morning at 9 a.m.