Widow of slain officer weighs the life and death question - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Widow of slain officer weighs the life and death question

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For a Giddings woman, the Brandon Daniel murder trial is opening up old wounds. Maria Bryant Fountain's husband was killed in the line of duty in 1996.

Giddings Police Officer Gary Joe Bryant had 30 minutes left on his shift on the afternoon of October 27, 1996. Then, he was headed home to his wife Maria whom he met on a traffic stop.

"He gave me a speeding ticket," Maria Bryant Fountain said with a laugh.

But officers were investigating a hit and run and the suspect needed to be located. Bryant volunteered to search. That suspect would shoot Bryant six times along his side and then once in the neck with his duty weapon.

The suspect drove his body a half-mile away and tried to hide the evidence by covering Bryant's body with debris.

"At first you're in disbelief. Then reality kicks in 'oh my God this really happened' then you start trying to figure out where to go from here," said Bryant Fountain. "I went into a deep depression and became ill. I had many health problems because I was in a deep depression."

The suspect was found incompetent to stand trial.

Since the start of the murder trial for Austin Police Officer Jaime Padron, the life or death decision has been weighing on Maria's mind.

"A realization came to me. How would I feel," she questioned.

She has decided Bryant would not have wanted his killer to face the death penalty.

"He was a very forgiving, Christian man," Bryant Fountain said. "His mom and dad were both ministers."

She will likely never get the chance to ask a jury for life in prison. The only way she'd got to court is if the killer once again becomes competent.

She doesn't feel like she missed out.

"I got justice because he's not out there trying to kill somebody else. He's away. He's locked up," said Bryant Fountain.

She says nothing can make up for her loss.

"I still miss him so much," she said.

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