AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN) — Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza called Gov. Greg Abbott’s promise to pardon convicted murderer Daniel Perry “deeply troubling” in a statement Sunday.
On Friday, a jury found Perry guilty of murdering Garrett Foster during a July 2020 protest in Austin but not guilty of an aggravated assault charge.
Perry has not yet been sentenced for the conviction.
But by Saturday afternoon, Abbott declared on social media that he would sign a pardon recommendation from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles for Perry “as soon as it hits my desk.” The Governor also said that he has instructed the agency to “expedite its review” of the case.
In Garza’s Sunday statement, the DA noted that the jury deliberated on their verdict for 15 hours, after days of court proceedings.
You can read the full statement below:
“In our legal system, a jury that gets to decide whether a defendant is guilty or innocent – not the Governor,” said Garza in his statement, “As this process continues, the Travis County District Attorney’s office will continue to fight to uphold the rule of law and to hold accountable people who commit acts of gun violence in our community.”
Austin police report from July 2020 incident
According to APD’s description of the incident, a car turned on Congress Avenue near 4th Street at 9:51 p.m. into where a group of protesters was marching against police violence. Protesters surrounded the car. Foster was armed with an assault-style weapon and was one of the protesters who surrounded the car.
Former Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said that is when the driver, later identified as Perry, fired five shots from inside the vehicle, hitting Foster multiple times. Foster never fired a shot. Another protester then shot at the car three times but did not hit anyone.
Perry and the other shooter were detained by police after the incident. Audio from Perry’s 911 call and video from his interview with APD were played during the trial.
During the trial’s opening statements March 28, the defense argued Perry had to defend himself after he was swarmed by protesters. Perry, an Army sergeant, came in contact with the protesters after traveling to Austin from Killeen to drive for Uber for supplemental income.
Opening statements from the state revealed Foster was a frequent BLM protester, and prosecutors said he was protesting nearly every day that summer. The state argued Perry incited the crowd, causing protesters to respond by hitting and kicking his car, and also screaming at him.
According to state prosecutors, Perry openly discussed his anti-protest feelings on social media. They said he had a conversation with a family friend a few weeks prior to the Austin BLM protest on July 25, about a protest in Seattle, where a driver drove into a crowd and killed a protester. Prosecutors said in this conversation with his friend, Perry agreed someone could and should claim self-defense even if they incited a crowd.
Perry’s defense said he did everything he could to avoid the protesters as he dropped off one of his riders downtown. They said he was fully cooperative with police and turned over his phone and social media passwords right away, without a warrant.
The state argued Perry sped into the crowd of protesters, though that was disputed by the defense’s expert witnesses who used science and data to track the speed of his car. The expert testified he was slowing down when his car entered the demonstration.
The defense and state both rested Wednesday afternoon. During the trial, nearly 40 witnesses were called on to testify. Closing arguments were given Thursday before jurors began deliberations.
Jurors concluded their deliberations Friday evening.