On Saturday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said he would grant a pardon to the man found guilty on Friday of murdering a demonstrator in Austin, if a request for clemency was brought to his attention by a state board.
With the governor’s announcement, the Board of Pardons and Paroles now has final say over the fate of Daniel S. Perry, who was convicted of killing 28-year-old Garrett Foster at a Black Lives Matter event in 2020. The board’s members are handpicked by the governor and are responsible for making pardon decisions. Mr. Perry is currently serving a life sentence.
“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,” Mr. Abbott wrote on Twitter. “I look forward to approving the board’s pardon recommendation as soon as it hits my desk,” he added.
Mr. Perry’s right to vote and jury duty would be reinstated along with his freedom if he were granted clemency. On the day before the governor’s comments, Texas Republican Party chairman Matt Rinaldi voiced his displeasure with the judgment, saying “this case should have never been prosecuted” and that a pardon from the governor was “in order.”
In spite of repeated Saturday night requests for comment, neither Mr. Abbott’s office nor the Board of Pardons and Paroles provided a response. The Travis County District Attorney’s office, which led the prosecution of the case, could be undermined by the possibility of a pardon for Mr. Perry.
This week, Republicans in the State Senate filed a bill that would limit the authority of elected prosecutors, especially those in liberal counties who choose not to prosecute cases involving, for example, abortion laws. On Saturday, the office of the Travis County District Attorney did not reply to an email seeking comment.
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Police reported that on July 25, 2020, Mr. Perry, an active-duty sergeant in the United States Army, was driving for Uber when he allegedly sped toward a group of protesters in Austin before stopping. Mr. Foster, a veteran aircraft mechanic for the United States Air Force, allegedly approached the vehicle while wearing a bandanna over his face and carrying an AK-47-style gun on a strap in front of him.
During the trial, attorneys for Mr. Perry said that Mr. Foster pointed a gun at their client, posing a danger. They claimed that Perry shot Foster in self-defense because he felt threatened. However, the prosecution claimed that Mr. Perry was responsible for starting the fight.
Prosecutors used Mr. Perry’s social media posts as evidence throughout the trial, including a post in which he said he might “kill a few people on my way to work; they are rioting outside my apartment complex,” according to The Austin American-Statesman.
Mr. Perry was found guilty by a unanimous jury. There was no quick response to our requests for comment from Mr. Perry’s legal representation, the office of Doug O’Connell. According to video clips released by TV station KXAN, once the verdict was read Mr. Perry lowered his shoulders, covered his head, and cried.
Garrett Foster’s brother Ryan Foster said Mr. Perry should not be pardoned in an interview with The American-Statesman. Kyle Rittenhouse, a Perry fan, was found not guilty of all charges in November 2021 for the 2020 shooting deaths of two white men and injury to a third during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, over the killing of a Black man by a white police officer.
Mr. Rittenhouse, whose case sparked a discussion about gun rights, tweeted on Saturday that he hoped the governor would grant clemency to Mr. Perry. Mr. Abbott usually issues pardons right before the holidays. He issued two pardons on December 22 of this year, and eight in December of 2021.
Mr. Abbott stopped Thomas Whitaker’s execution in 2018 less than an hour before it was set to take place. The Board of Pardons unanimously recommended that Mr. Whitaker, who in 2003 planned and carried out the murders of his mother and brother near Houston, have his death sentence commuted to life in prison without the possibility of parole, and the governor agreed.
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