Death row killer who gunned down cop while shoplifting found dead in jail cell

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Death row inmate Brandon Daniel has been found dead in his jail cell.

Daniel, 33, was found unresponsive by a correctional officer at the Allan B. Polunsky Unit in Livingston at 4.25am on Saturday.

Officials entered his cell and determined he wasn't breathing.

Medics were called in but Daniel was declared dead less than an hour later.

There doesn't appear to be an act of foul play, officials have said.

His death will be investigated by the office of the inspector general and an autopsy will be performed by a medical examiner in due course.

The former software engineer was convicted in the deadly shooting of officer Jaime Padron at a Wal-mart in North Austin on April 6, 2012.

Padron responded to calls from shop staff about a potentially intoxicated man attempting to shoplift the supermarket.

The two struggled on the floor when Daniel shot the officer, killing him.

Police quickly arrested him and found a magazine with six hollow-point bullets in his pocket.

He had $57 (£47) worth of food, booze, and other items stuffed in his backpack.

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Padron was a former Marine and dad to two girls. He would later have a local elementary school named in his honour.

Daniel told detectives he was in the Wal-Mart to steal vegetables but tried to get away when he saw Padron.

On three occasions he was heard by witnesses saying "I killed a cop".

A jury only spent an hour deliberating before finding Daniel guilty of capital murder in February 2014.

They then deliberated for eight hours and sentenced him to death row.

The killer had sent a letter to a judge a year later telling the court to waive any appeals, saying he deserved his sentence.

He wrote: "I want justice to be served, and I feel 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 any more angst than necessary.

"And finally, I would like my time in prison to be the least amount as possible."

Despite his letter and remorse, his attorneys continued to appeal.

In 2018, his case was struck down by the Supreme Court without comment.

Daniel's lawyers argued the judge improperly communicated with jurors during the trial.

They claimed his trial attorneys acted deficiently by ignoring or missing evidence that Daniel was on the autism spectrum.

A diagnosis could have explained why he had no remorse and the use of drugs and liquor to self-medicate.

They say the information could have caused the jury to give him life in prison over the death penalty.

There was no execution date set for Daniel at the time of his death.

Padron had been a police officer in North Austin for three years but had worked as a cop for well over a decade.

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