AUSTIN (KXAN) — A man on death row for the 2012 murder of Austin Police Officer Jaime Padron appeared in court on Friday to seek self-representation during his death row appeals process.
Brandon Daniel, 27, was brought into Judge Brenda Kennedy’s court with shackled hands. Daniel was found guilty of capital murder and sentenced to death in February 2014. While he is on death row, a date for his execution has not been set.
“He wants to represent himself so that he can decide whether or not to pursue his appeals,” explains Russ Hunt Jr., Daniel’s attorney during the capital murder trial. “He doesn’t directly decide about the execution but he can decide about whether or not to pursue the appeal if he represents himself. If there is no appeal or habeas the rest of the process will proceed more rapidly.”
During the hearing — that lasted no more than five minutes — Daniel asked the judge to waive the psychological evaluation but she denied his request and ordered an evaluation to determine if he is competent to represent himself. Meanwhile, the automatic appeal will move forward.
Daniel also told the judge he is currently taking depression medication.
“If a judge determines that he [Daniel] is competent, she’ll dismiss Office of Capital Writ and he can represent himself but he cannot remove me as his attorney for direct appeal,” explains Ariel Payan, Daniel’s appeals attorney.
Travis County Assistant District Attorney Gary Cobb said if the judge does allow Daniel to represent himself the execution process could happen within two years.
“Being an intelligent person I think he’s decided rather than live with the consequences of what he’s done he wants to suffer the consequences of what he’s done,” says Cobb.
In March, Daniel sent Judge Kennedy a letter stating why he wanted to waive any and all of his appeals.
I want justice to be served and I feel that the punishment is appropriate for my crime; we are both interested in saving the taxpayer’s money, the time of all involved and in sparing my family and the victim’s family anymore angst than necessary; and finally, I would like to limit my time in prison to the least amount possible.
The Austin Police Department issued the following statement in regards to Daniel’s request:
“On April 6, 2012, Mr. Daniels was arrested after he murdered Senior Police Officer Jaime Padron in cold blood. Mr. Daniels was tried, convicted and sentenced by a jury comprised of members from our diverse community. There is no doubt that Mr. Daniels committed the heinous crime he was convicted of, therefore the department is not opposed to the granting of his petition.”
In-Depth: Time on death row
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice says inmates that receive capital punishment stay on death row an average of nearly 11 years before being put to death. However, there are exceptions.
To give you some perspective, Joe Gonzalez and Steven Renfro were both put to death eight- to nine months after being sentenced to death in the 1990s. Both waived all rights to appeal, which sped up their executions.
At the other end of the spectrum, a Travis County inmate David Powell spent more than 31 years on death row. Powell was convicted of killing an Austin police officer in 1978.