Army sergeant who killed BLM protester for wielding AR-15 near his car gets 25 years in prison
A Texas Army sergeant has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for killing a Black Lives Matter protester who pointed a shotgun at his car during the George Floyd protests.
Daniel Perry, 36, received the verdict from an Austin court on Wednesday, weeks after being convicted of the July 2020 murder of 28-year-old Garrett Foster.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has said he intends to pardon Perry, who he says acted in self-defense. The state constitution limits Abbott to pardon only on the recommendation of the State Board of Pardons and Paroles.
“I look forward to approving the board’s pardon recommendation as soon as it reaches my desk,” the GOP legislator tweeted.
Daniel Perry enters the 147th District Courtroom at the Travis County Justice Center for his sentencing, Tuesday, May 9, 2023, in Austin, Texas
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has directed the Board of Pardons and Paroles to recommend a pardon and expedite his request
Perry was sentenced in April after an eight-day trial, where a jury deliberated for 17 hours to reach a guilty verdict.
The murder erupted on July 25, 2020, as the Army sergeant drove his Uber car through downtown Austin, where he was in the middle of a BLM protest.
His lawyers argued that Foster raised his AK-47 at Perry during the fight, causing Perry to fire in self-defense.
However, witnesses testified at trial that Foster never raised his gun at Perry, and prosecutors argued that social media posts indicate that Perry strongly opposed protesters.
On Tuesday, prosecutors submitted as evidence dozens of texts and social media posts that Perry wrote, shared, or liked, including some racist images.
They were barred from Perry’s trial, but were publicly released after his sentencing and admitted to the sentencing stage by District Judge Clifford Brown.
Prosecutor Guillermo Gonzalez had urged Brown to serve a sentence of at least 25 years. The sentence range for the murder conviction is five years to life in prison.
“This guy is a loaded gun, ready to go off at any perceived threat,” Gonzalez said. “He’s going to do it again.”
Perry claims he acted in self-defense. His lawyers asked the judge to consider his more than a decade-long military career and to impose a sentence of up to 10 years.
Garrett Foster, 28, pictured with wife Whitney Mitchell, a quadruple amputee who uses a wheelchair
Foster and Mitchell pictured during the July 2020 protest
Garrett Foster is seen at the driver’s window. The gun’s barrel is pointed toward the ground, while his right arm is high and his hand is seemingly placed on the weapon’s grip. His gun and Perry’s were both obtained legally
During closing arguments at the end of Perry’s trial last month, Gonzalez argued that Perry angrily rode into the crowd despite seeing protesters marching from three different angles.
The state argued that Perry sped into the crowd, but that was disputed by the expert defense witnesses who used science and data to track the speed of his car. The expert testified that he slowed down when his car entered the demonstration.
Doug O’Connell, who defended Perry, said prosecutors wanted the jury to “believe (Perry) had this evil plan when he turned right.”
O’Connell argued that during the protest Foster was dressed for battle, including wearing a neoprene vest under his T-shirt and carrying an AK-47, bat and knife.
Perry was wearing a T-shirt, shorts and flip flops. “Garrett Foster is dressed for war,” O’Connell said. “Daniel Perry is dressed for the beach.”
Activists are pictured on July 26, 2020 holding a vigil for Foster, the day after he was killed
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has said he hopes to pardon the Army sergeant
Prosecutors allege that Perry overreacted during the shooting and used other, non-lethal means of self-defense during the encounter.
However, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has sided with the Army sergeant and insists he intends to pardon Perry “as soon as Texas law allows.”
“Texas has one of the strongest ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws of self-defense that cannot be overturned by a jury or progressive prosecutor,” Abbott said.
He said he has applied to the Board of Pardons and Paroles to release Perry, adding, “I look forward to approving the Board’s pardon recommendation as soon as it reaches my desk.”