Murder Suspect Who Smiled Defiantly When He Was Captured Dies in Jail

A San Antonio-area man who smiled for cameras and said he was “happy” after being arrested for murder a year and a half ago has killed himself in jail.

Joel Sambrano, 20, was found hanging himself by a deputy at the Bexar County Jail at about 6 a.m. on March 3. The deputy called for assistance and Sambrano was taken to Baptist Medical Center in downtown San Antonio where he was pronounced dead about an hour later, the San Antonio Express-News reported.

Sambrano was awaiting trial in the shooting death of 26-year-old Roy Ponce at his home on July 30, 2018.

He was arrested a little more than a month later after a caller to police identified a group of individuals responsible for a series of car burglaries near a mall. When police approached Sambrano, he fled, but when eventually caught he told officials he was wanted in an unrelated murder case.

MORE: Social Justice Activist Reported 10 Racist Threats at College — Police Say She Made Them Against Herself

After his arrest while being transported by police, Sambrano smiled broadly for cameras and said “Yeah, I’m happy,” when asked by reporters if his smiling meant he was happy.

Police said Sambrano and two others, later identified as his brothers, broke into Ponce’s home on consecutive days, CBS-network affiliate KENS reported at the time.

In the first instance, three 18-year-olds and a 16-year-old were pistol whipped, robbed and one was shot in the arm.

The second night, Sambrano and his brothers allegedly entered the home with keys stolen from the night before, hid in an attic crawl space and waited for Ponce to return home to rob him.

Ponce was killed in an exchange of gunfire. A police officer in the area heard the gunfire and chased the suspects to a convenience store where he found a 16-year-old, identified in an arrest warrant as Sambrano’s younger brother, shot in the leg, according to KENS.

MORE: WATCH: Ex-Sanders Staffer Calls Potential Democrat Voters — Suggests Biden Has Dementia

Also captured was Paul Sambrano, identified as another brother of Joel Sambrano.

Paul Sambrano was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Aug. 29, 2019, the San Antonio Express-News reporter.

Deputies did not say whether Joel Sambrano expressed any suicidal thoughts during his time at the jail, according to the Express-News.

The sheriff’s criminal investigations division, internal affairs, and public integrity unit were investigating Sambrano’s death.

Cover image: Joel Sambrano. (Screen grab)