Texas man sentenced to death for 'ambush' killing of LEO, friend
"I think it did send a message today. If you kill a cop in Texas, we’ll give you a fair trial, but you’re gonna die”
Dallas Morning News
MCKINNEY, Texas — A courtroom full of family, friends and fellow officers who worked with slain Richardson police Officer David Sherrard burst into sobs late Thursday night when his killer, Brandon McCall, was sentenced to die.
Jurors deliberated for more than eight hours Thursday before rendering a verdict. McCall, with defense attorney Ed “Bubba” King’s hand resting on his back, didn’t seem to react as the judge read the ruling.
“I think it did send a message today,” Judge John Roach Jr. told the jury after they returned with a verdict. “You sent a message that if you kill a cop in Texas, we’ll give you a fair trial, but you’re gonna die.”
The same jury last week convicted McCall, 28, of capital murder for killing Sherrard after the officer responded to a shooting call at the apartment where McCall was staying in February 2018. McCall also killed his roommate, Rene Gamez, with a shotgun blast to the calf.
“Mr. McCall,” Roach said as he formally sentenced the man to death, “this is for David Sherrard.”
First Assistant District Attorney Bill Wirksye called McCall “a cold-blooded cop killer" and said his life shouldn’t be spared.
“When you ‘go to war with the police,’ that’s a death penalty case in Collin County," Wirskye said, repeating the words McCall said in a jailhouse phone call to a friend. “You know why we drew the line? Because he crossed that line.”
Defense attorneys argued that McCall should be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, saying that past drug use and mental health issues could have led him to kill the two men. They also pointed to his nonviolent criminal history.
“Brandon McCall’s life sucked," defense attorney Ed “Bubba” King said in closing arguments. “He’s not a sociopath. He’s not a danger to society.”
Most capital murder convictions in Texas end in an automatic punishment of life without parole, unless prosecutors decide to seek the death penalty. This is Collin County’s first death penalty case since 2009.“What kind of situation do we have when locking a man in a cage for the rest of his life is not sufficient punishment?” said Phillip Hayes, another defense attorney. “They ask you to kill Brandon McCall out of revenge.”
Jurors considered two questions while deciding McCall’s punishment: Does McCall pose a significant threat to the public, and were there mitigating factors that called for life without parole. If the answers were “yes” and “no,” respectively, he was to be sentenced to death.
“There is a disconnect with Brandon McCall that makes him scary and dangerous," prosecutor Dewey Mitchell told the jury in closing arguments. “How many bodies does it take until he’s a sufficient threat?”
The attorneys also referenced the gallery multiple times in their closing statements, where chairs were full of police officers from Richardson and other local departments. Wirskye said that sentencing McCall to death would “draw a line” in society that shows there are dire consequences to attacking officers like those in the audience.
“Are we at a point in society where we normalize an attack on law enforcement?” Wirskye said. “Your verdict will send a message whether you like it or not.”
Both prosecutors talked about the bravery of the officers, including how Sherrard managed to get out of the apartment before collapsing.
“Every time they go through a door, they do so counting on our society knowing that you do not lift a finger to that authority,” Mitchell said.
Jurors left the courtroom at 1:22 p.m. Thursday. They came back with the verdict of death just under eight hours later.
After McCall was led out of the courtroom just after 10 p.m. Thursday, family members of Sherrard and Gamez hugged. Richardson cops joined in the embrace as well.
Paramedics were summoned when after Gamez’s mother collapsed while leaving the courtroom. She was removed on a stretcher.
Around 10:45 p.m., McCall was brought back into the courtroom to hear victim impact statements from family.