A Texas Army sergeant has been jailed for 25 years for killing a Black Lives Matter protester who pointed a rifle at his car during the George Floyd protests.
Daniel Perry, 36, was handed the sentence by an Austin court Wednesday, weeks after he was convicted of the July 2020 murder of Garrett Foster, 28.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has said he intends to pardon Perry, who he insists acted in self-defense. The state constitution limits Abbott to a pardon only on the recommendation by the state Board of Pardons and Paroles.
'I look forward to approving the board's pardon recommendation as soon as it hits my desk,' the GOP lawmaker 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 instructed the Board of Pardons and Paroles to recommend a pardon and to expedite his request
Perry was convicted in April after an eight-day trial, where a jury took 17 hours of deliberation to hand down a guilty verdict.
The killing erupted July 25, 2020, while the army sergeant was driving his car as an Uber through downtown Austin, where he found himself in the midst of a BLM protest.
His defense lawyers argued that Foster raised his AK-47 at Perry during the melee, leading Perry to fire in self-defense.
However, witnesses testified during the trial that Foster never raised his rifle at Perry, and prosecutors argued that social media posts indicate Perry was vehemently opposed to protestors.
The army sergeant broke down in court and hugged his attorney after learning his fate, while his devastated mother Rachel Perry watched on in tears.
Daniel Perry broke down after being sentenced to 25 years behind bars
Rachel Perry, the mother of Daniel Perry, reacts to her son's sentencing on May 10, 2023
Whitney Mitchell, the partner of Garrett Foster, speaks in court during Perry's sentencing hearing on May 9
At Perry's sentencing hearing Tuesday, prosecutors submitted into evidence dozens of texts and social media posts Perry wrote, shared or liked, including some racist images.
They had been excluded from Perry's trial, but were publicly released after his conviction and allowed into the sentencing phase by District Judge Clifford Brown.
Prosecutor Guillermo Gonzalez had urged Brown to issue a sentence of at least 25 years.
'This man is a loaded gun, ready to go off at any perceived threat,' Gonzalez said. 'He's going to do it again.'
Garrett Foster, 28, pictured with his wife Whitney Mitchell, a quadruple amputee who uses a wheelchair
Garrett Foster is seen at the driver's window. The barrel of the rifle is pointed towards the ground, while his right arm is high with his hand seemingly placed on the grip of the weapon. His weapon and Perry's were both legally-obtained
During the closing arguments at the end of Perry's trial last month, Gonzalez argued that Perry drove angrily into the crowd despite seeing protesters marching from three different angles.
However, the claim he sped into the protestors was disputed by the defense's expert witnesses, who used data to track the speed of his car. The expert testified he was slowing down when his car entered the demonstration.
Doug O'Connell, defending Perry, said prosecutors wanted the jury 'to believe (Perry) had this evil plan when he turned right.'
O'Connell argued that Foster was dressed for battle at the protest, including wearing a neoprene vest under his T-shirt and carrying an AK-47, a club and a 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.'
Following his conviction, Perry's attorneys filed a motion asking for a new trial, maintaining the defense team was blocked from introducing evidence they argue showed Foster intentionally confronting other drivers on the street the night of the shooting.
Foster and Mitchell pictured at the July 2020 protest
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 is hoping to pardon the army sergeant
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has made a public plea for the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to recommend clemency for Perry, and the GOP lawmaker says he has requested the body expedited his request for a review.
According to its website, the board can recommend a pardon to the governor on a majority vote from its seven members, and Abbott insists he intends to pardon Perry 'as swiftly as Texas law allows'.
'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,' Abbott said. 'I look forward to approving the Board's pardon recommendation as soon as it hits my desk'.
Abbott previously granted two pardons in 2022 and eight in 2021 based on the board's recommendations, all of which were for lower-level offenses, including theft, providing alcohol to a minor, assault by contact, burglary of a vehicle, credit card abuse and illegally carrying a firearm, according to the Texas Tribune.