Texas governor pardons ex-Army sergeant convicted of killing Black Lives Matter protester

Daniel Perry had been convicted of murdering Garrett Foster during the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020.

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has pardoned Daniel Perry after the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles unanimously voted on Thursday to recommend a pardon for the U.S. Army Sgt. who was convicted of murder in April 2023.

Shortly after the recommendation from the board, Abbott announced the pardon via a proclamation:

“The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles conducted an exhaustive review of U.S. Army Sergeant Daniel Perry’s personal history and the facts surrounding the July 2020 incident and recommended a Full Pardon and Restoration of Full Civil Rights of Citizenship,” said Governor Abbott. “Among the voluminous files reviewed by the Board, they considered information provided by the Travis County District Attorney, the full investigative report on Daniel Perry, plus a review of all the testimony provided at trial. Texas has one of the strongest ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws of self-defense that cannot be nullified by a jury or a progressive District Attorney. I thank the Board for its thorough investigation, and I approve their pardon recommendation.”

Perry had been convicted of murdering a Black Lives Matter protester during the 2020 racial justice protests in Austin.

Shortly after Perry’s conviction, Abbott said he would request the Board of Pardons and Paroles to review the case. The board began its review of the case in February.

Abbott asked the board to expedite a review of the case, saying that the conviction violated the state’s Stand Your Ground Law. Prosecutors argued that Perry instigated the incident by driving into the protest and had documented animosity toward the social justice movement.

Abbott sought the request from the board after voices such as Tucker Carlson and Kyle Rittenhouse demanded the pardon. Under Texas law, the board must issue a recommendation before the governor can act.

RELATED: Gov. Abbott requests Board of Pardons and Paroles review Daniel Perry murder case

In April 2023, a Travis County jury found Perry guilty of murder after he shot and killed Foster in July 2020. The jury found Perry not guilty of aggravated assault, the other charge he faced.

Perry claimed he shot Foster in self-defense after he encountered a group of demonstrators while he was working as a rideshare driver in Downtown Austin.

Shortly after his conviction, Perry’s legal team requested a new trial, but that motion was denied.

RELATED: Juror: Texas governor’s rush to pardon shooter a ‘travesty’

The full language of the recommendation reads:

“On April 7, 2023 U.S. Army Sergeant Daniel Perry was convicted of murder in Travis County, Texas and later sentenced to 25 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice-Institutional Division. On April 8, 2023 Governor Greg Abbot, pursuant to Section 508.050 of the Texas Government Code, requested the Board of Pardons and Paroles conduct an investigation and make a recommendation as to a pardon for Sergeant Perry. The members of the Board of Pardons and Paroles delved into the intricacies of Perry’s case. The investigative efforts encompassed a meticulous review of pertinent documents, from police reports to court records, witness statements, and interviews with individuals linked to the case. After a thorough examination of the amassed information, the parole board reached a decision on May 16, 2024. The Board voted unanimously to recommend a full pardon and restoration of firearm rights. The recommendation of the Board was conveyed to the Governor on this same date.”

According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), Perry was released from Stringfellow State Prison in Rosharon, near Houston, shortly after his pardon on Thursday.

RELATED: ‘It’s disgusting’ | Fiancée of Plano native murdered in Austin protest tells Gov. Abbott to not pardon killer

Reactions

An attorney for Garrett Foster’s fiancée Whitney Mitchell released a statement on her behalf following the announcement of Perry’s pardon:

“I loved Garrett Foster. I thought we were going to grow old together. He was the love of my life. He still is. I am heartbroken by this lawlessness. Governor Abbott has shown that to him, only certain lives matter. He has made us all less safe.

Daniel Perry texted his friends about plans to murder a protestor he disagreed with. After a lengthy trial, with an abundance of evidence, 12 impartial Texans determined he that he carried out that plan, and murdered the love of my life. With this pardon, the Governor has desecrated the life of a murdered Texan, impugned that jury’s just verdict, and declared that citizens can be killed with impunity as long as they hold political views that are different from those in power.”

The office of Travis County District Attorney José Garza also released a statement on Perry’s pardon, expressing anger with the move:

“The Board and the Governor have put their politics over justice and made a mockery of our legal system. They should be ashamed of themselves.  

Their actions are contrary to the law and demonstrate that there are two classes of people in this state where some lives matter and some lives do not.  

They have sent a message to Garrett Foster’s family, to his partner, and to our community that his life does not matter.   

They have sent the message that the service of the Travis County community members who served on the grand jury and trial jury does not matter.  

To the family and friends of Garrett Foster, and to the people of Travis County, we will not stop fighting for justice. ”

Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa released a statement, primarily criticizing Abbott for his decision to pardon Perry:

“Today, a convicted murderer will walk the streets of Texas. Texas Republicans have once again proven that they cannot keep the public safe, they are not the party of ‘tough on crime,’ and they are not the party of ‘law and order.’ Only in an authoritarian state can a murderer be fully pardoned at the direction of a Fox News TV personality and corrupt governor. Make no mistake: Daniel Perry is a murderer who was on a mission to commit violence against Texans, and today our justice system was hijacked for political gain.”

Daniel Perry’s attorney Doug O’Connell, meanwhile, thanked Gov. Abbott and the parole board for granting Perry a full pardon:

“On behalf of Daniel Perry, we would like to thank Gov. Abbott for his decisive action granting Daniel a full pardon and restoring all his civil rights. We would also like to extend our thanks to the members of the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole. They conducted a very thorough investigation over many months. All the interested parties and many of the witnesses were interviewed by the board. They took the time needed to get to the truth behind what really happened when Mr. Foster illegally threatened Daniel with a fully loaded AK-47 rifle on Congress Avenue in downtown Austin, Texas. They also investigated the facts surrounding the Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza tampering with Grand Jury witnesses during this case. Ultimately, the Board unanimously voted to recommend a full pardon to Daniel.

Daniel Perry was imprisoned for 372 days and lost the military career that he loved. The action by Gov. Abbott and the Pardon Board corrects the courtroom travesty which occurred over a year ago and represents true justice in this case. We intend to fight to get Daniel’s military service characterization upgraded to an Honorable Discharge.

I spoke with Daniel this afternoon. He is thrilled and elated to be free. Daniel is also optimistic for his future. He wishes that this tragic event never happened and wishes he never had to defend himself against Mr. Foster’s unlawful actions. At the same time, Daniel recognizes that the Foster family is grieving.

We are anxious to see Daniel reunited with his family and loved ones.”

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