A Texas man who killed a protester almost three years ago was sentenced Wednesday to 25 years in prison, although Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has promised to approve a pardon if he is given the opportunity.
A Travis County jury convicted Daniel Perry, 35, an Army sergeant, of murder last month in the fatal shooting of Garrett Foster in downtown Austin in July 2020.
On April 8, the day after the jury returned its verdict, Abbott tweeted that he wanted to pardon Perry and said he asked the Board of Pardons and Paroles to consider the matter.
Travis County District Attorney José Garza at the time called Abbott’s intervention “deeply troubling.”
Army sergeant found guilty in fatal shooting of protester in TexasApril 8, 202301:29
“In our legal system, a jury gets to decide whether a defendant is guilty or innocent — not the Governor,” Garza said April 9 in a statement.
Abbott said in vowing to pardon Perry that Texas has a strong "stand your ground" self-defense law, and he suggested that Garza was a progressive district attorney.
Under Texas law, the Board of Pardons and Paroles has to first recommend a pardon before the governor can act on it. Abbott said he was permitted to ask the board to review it, and he said he asked the board to do so and to expedite the matter.
Perry fatally shot Foster, 28, who had been legally carrying a rifle, at a demonstration against police brutality and racial injustice in downtown Austin on the evening of July 25, 2020.
Perry was in a vehicle and Foster approached the intersection carrying the semi-automatic rifle, police have said.
Perry shot Foster from the vehicle with a handgun and told police that Foster, an Air Force veteran, had pointed the weapon at him and that the shooting was self-defense, police said.
Perry was found guilty of murder and not guilty of a second charge, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He faced up to life in prison on the murder conviction.
An attorney for Perry, Clint Broden, said Perry plans to appeal. Broden said Wednesday that he and Perry had hoped for a sentence of 10 years or less and that they will focus on the appeal process.
“We also are now in a position to fully cooperate in the Texas pardon process,” Perry's attorneys said in a statement.
A judge on May 3 rejected a request by Perry's lawyers for a new trial.
Foster was killed in Austin as demonstrations were held across the country that summer after the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by a white Minnesota police officer who knelt on his neck.
Perry is white, and so was Foster.
The sentencing hearing began Tuesday. Prosecutors highlighted text messages and social media posts that showed a hostility toward the Black Lives Matter movement, NBC affiliate KXAN of Austin reported. Some of Perry's comrades from the Army vouched for his character, the station reported.
Perry is still in the Army, which he joined in 2012. He is assigned to the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 11th Airborne Division, at Fort Wainwright, Alaska, the Army said.
Perry’s status is “civilian confinement, and he is pending separation from the Army,” Army spokesperson Bryce S. Dubee said.
“The Army has reviewed the evidence released by the Travis County District Court and has passed the information to the Army Criminal Investigation Division to conduct an independent review of the allegations contained within the document,” Dubee said.