LUBBOCK, Texas — The sentencing phase for Hollis Daniels’s capital murder trial continued into a third week.
The young man faced life in prison or the death penalty for shooting and killing Texas Tech Police Department Officer Floyd East Jr. on October 9, 2017.
Tuesday afternoon, with his life on the line, Daniels took the stand.
Daniels was very soft-spoken throughout the day while he was on the stand. There was a lot of emotion from both Daniels’s family and Officer East’s family when some sensitive and descriptive details about Daniels murdering the officer were discussed.
In court, the defense presented a timeline to the jury that detailed the 27 hours that led up to the shooting. Daniels testified that it’s hard for him to distinguish between what he remembered on his own and what became more clear through seeing the video during his trial.
On Oct. 9, 2017, Daniels recalled that he walked into his dorm room and police officers were there. He had the gun that he stole from his friend the night before in his waistband. He said he was trying to avoid getting into trouble, so he was strategizing how to get rid of the it.
Daniels then recalled the first pat down in his dorm room from Officer Tyler Snelson when the gun was still in his waistband.
“In my memory, my pants were sagging,” Daniels said. “He pulled my pants up and the gun fell into my crotch area.”
Daniels also said Officer Snelson kept missing the gun, and that every time the officer touched a part of his leg, the gun kept moving further down his leg.
On the car ride to the Texas Tech Police Department with Officer East after being arrested at Talkington Hall, Daniels remembered the “thud” sound of the gun falling in the back of the police car.
“I was looking for a place to hide it in the back of the car,” Daniels said.
Daniels managed to get the gun back up to his waistband in the back of the police car while in handcuffs.
After nearly half an hour with Officer East at TTPD, Daniels shot Officer East point blank in the head.
Prosecutors asked Daniels why he made the decision to shoot Officer East that night.
“It doesn’t make sense,” Daniels answered. ‘I thought I was stuck. For years, I wondered why I didn’t just shoot myself.”
The defense then asked Daniels why jurors should show him mercy.
“I think it’s totally fair to say life for life, but then on the other hand, I think about my family and the truth is, I’m biased in my own favor,” Daniels said. “I don’t want to die. Not anymore.”
The court went to recess with Daniels still on the stand just before 5:00 p.m. Tuesday and was scheduled to pick back up Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. Judge John “Trey” McClendon said closing arguments were expected to take place Wednesday.