The mission of the defense team will be to prove to the jury that Brandon Daniel's life is worth saving. The prosecution is seeking death penalty. The only other option is life without parole. Expert legal analyst, defense attorney and former prosecutor Mindy Montford weighs in.
Brandon Daniel, 26, will face jurors Tuesday for the 2012 shooting death of Austin Police Officer Jaime Padron. His defense team tried to strike a plea deal for life without parole, but that failed. The prosecution will seek the death penalty.
"They want the members of the community to decide his fate and when you have the outpouring of emotion we saw in Austin with the funeral procession, everyone knew about this case, they felt very emotional about this case," said Montford.
Defense attorney and former prosecutor Mindy Montford says this case is all about punishment. There are two questions both sides must prove--is Daniel a danger to society and is there any mitigating evidence that would prevent jurors from returning a death penalty verdict.
Montford expects alcohol to play a big role.
Daniel's mother said he had been drinking tequila and had taken anti-depressants prior to walking into the North Austin Wal-Mart where the shooting took place. The computer programmer was arrested two months prior for DWI and a possession charge.
"The state is going to have to show that whether he was intoxicated or not he's a future danger to society. The defense is going to come back and say on the other hand, he was intoxicated this is not indicative of his nature, his character that he should be spared, that life without parole is sufficient," said Montford. "The state is going to argue it was voluntary intoxication, he did this, and someone didn't deserve to die just because he chose to be intoxicated that day."
Montford says even though a well-loved a respected officer is the victim, the defense does have a chance of getting life without parole.
"…Because it is without parole and studies have shown since that legislation went into effect, death penalties handed out is reduced," said Montford.
She also says Travis County jurors don't historically return death penalties when sought.
Stay with FOX 7 for complete coverage of this trial. We will be live streaming the court room each day on myfoxaustin.com. Opening statements start Tuesday morning at 9.