TRAVIS COUNTY -- The trial of an accused cop killer began Tuesday in Travis County.
Brandon Daniel is accused of killing Austin Police Senior Officer Jaime Padron in April of 2012. Padron was responding to a burglary call at a North Austin Walmart store near Interstate 35 and Parmer Lane. He and Daniel apparently got into a struggle when Daniel shot him.
Daniel now faces the death penalty. Tuesday morning's testimony came from two eyewitnesses to the shooting of Padron, both employees of the Walmart store.
The first witness described his encounter with the defendant, Daniel, that night. He said Daniel asked him to hold some groceries that he put in a produce bag while Daniel went outside to "get something."
He testified that Daniel was cordial, not aggressive, and looked like he had a "rough night" so the employee wanted to be nice to him. The witness said he waited for Daniel to return for several minutes but did not, so the employee went about his business.
The second to testify was the manager of the store. He said Daniel appeared intoxicated, so he called 311 to ask for police to show up to check out the situation. That call was played for the jury.
The manager testified that when Padron arrived, he went outside to tell him about the situation and walked back in the store with Padron. Daniel was heading out of the store and Padron tried to stop him. When Daniel ducked under his arm, the witness said Padron tackled him from behind. The witness testified he heard two pops.
The witness then saw the blood and jumped on Daniel. Daniel allegedly fired a third shot at Padron, and it skimmed the witness' ear. The manager said Daniel then lifted his head and chuckled, saying, "I killed a cop."
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.
Daniel's lawyers say he does not have a violent past. His mother told KVUE he was high on Xanax and tequila and brought the gun to the Walmart because he was distraught over a break up.
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.
Police Chief Art Acevedo has asked officers attending the trial to not wear their uniforms.