LUBBOCK, Texas — After five and a half years, the trial against Hollis Daniels began on Monday. Daniels is the former Texas Tech student accused of the shooting and killing campus police officer, Floyd East Jr. in 2017. Daniels was charged with Capital Murder and the state is seeking the death penalty.
When the judge asked how Daniel’s would plead, he stated, “I plead guilty because I’m responsible.” This pushed the trial into the sentencing phase. Prosecutors began right away, showing the jurors who Officer East was in their opening statements.
Attorney Laurea Beth Fossett told the Jury that Officer East had been with Tech for five months, fulfilling his dream of being an officer. She also said he always wore a pin that read “I am my brother’s keeper,” serving as a declaration of who he was as a person when no one was looking.
Shortly after, a witness called to the stand verified that sentiment. Texas Tech Officer James Oswalt recalled the final moments of Officer East’s life. Oswalt had worked closely with East and choked up on the stand when asked about Officer East’s family. Oswalt finally broke out in tears when asked about the final moments, and said he stood by Officer East’s side after the shooting, “I wasn’t going to let him die by himself.”
Prosecutors stated that Daniels was afforded every opportunity in life, from attending church camps to going to private schools. They said in October 2017 Daniels had been using marijuana, was prescribed Prozac to help with depression, and took un-prescribed Xanax.
A former friend of Daniels was called to the witness stand, confirming that Daniels had taken several drugs, including LSD.
Prosecutors said the night of the shooting, Daniels stole a gun from his friend’s house, later getting into an altercation with those friends, threatening to kill them if he did have the gun.
Prosecutors also said those friends were worried he would act upon those threats.
The Defense said in their opening statement that Daniels was out of his mind at the time of the shooting, they stated that Daniels had been a troubled young man since high school who was a dealing with depression and was on a path headed for suicide.
The summer before the shooting, the defense said Daniels was struggling and there were many red flags that were ignored and discounted. They also said he was never sent to therapy and was instead prescribed Prozac and sent back to Tech, where two months later he would fatally shoot Officer East. The Defense stated Daniels no longer remembered the moments from shooting.
Daniels is expected to take the stand and the sentencing phase of the trial will continue on Tuesday, February 7.