LUBBOCK, Texas — A jury panel of 250 people began questioning from prosecutors and the defense team for the capital murder trial of Hollis Daniels.

Procedural issues related to the trial got underway in October. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Daniels, now age 24, for the October 9, 2017, murder of Texas Tech police officer Floyd East, Jr.

  • hollis Daniels 720 02
  • Hollis Daniels 720 image from Texas Tech

Court records said Daniels had a stolen gun concealed at the time he was arrested by East. Daniels was accused of using the gun to shoot and kill East inside the Texas Tech Police Department.

He ran off and was re-arrested. Court records from the time indicated Daniels made statements to police that he was the one who shot and killed East.

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The panel of 250 (minus a few people who did not show up on Thursday) will be whittled down to 12 jurors and perhaps also a couple of alternate jurors. They were told by the judge that Daniels is presumed innocent until proven guilty. They were told to not make determinations about the case based on things said outside the court.

“The question is not: have you heard about the case?” Lubbock County Criminal District Attorney Sunshine Stanek said to the panel. “The question is: have you formed an opinion about the guilt or innocence of the defendant.”

“This is serious business,” she told the jury. “The state is seeking the death penalty.”

“This is going to be one of the most difficult things in your life” defense attorney Chip Lewis told the jury panel. “No one will diminish the gravity of the tragedy of the loss of life in this case.”

Lewis said there is a fundamental disagreement between prosecutors and the defense.

“The state wants to kill this young man. We want to spare his life,” said Lewis.

Jurors were told that to always want the death penalty means there will not be a fair trial, but the same is true of always not wanting the death penalty.

Jurors were also told the process of jury selection will take weeks.