Gov. Greg Abbott says he would pardon Sgt. Daniel Perry

The day after a Travis County jury convicted Sgt. Daniel Perry of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Garrett Foster, Gov. Greg Abbott called on the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to “expedite” a pardon recommendation for Abbott’s immediate approval.

Perry asserted he shot Foster in self-defense after Foster pointed an AK-style rifle at him, though witnesses disagreed on the truthfulness of that claim. Prosecutors argued Perry did not have the right to use deadly force because he “instigated” and provoked the confrontation.

“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 in a social media post on Saturday.

The governor continued, “Unlike the President or some other states, the Texas Constitution limits the Governor’s pardon authority to only act on a recommendation by the Board of Pardons and Paroles. Texas law DOES allow the Governor to request the Board of Pardons and Paroles to determine if a person should be granted a pardon. I have made that request and instructed the Board to expedite its review.”

After approximately 17 hours of deliberation, the jury found Perry guilty of one count of murder and not guilty of one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Judge Clifford Brown announced the decision in the 147th District Court, whereupon Perry was taken into custody by Travis County sheriff’s deputies. Perry had been free after posting a $300,000 bail.

“I look forward to approving the Board’s pardon recommendation as soon as it hits my desk,” Abbott said.

The governor concluded his statement by touting legislation to “(rein) in rogue District Attorneys.”

Abbott’s announcement highlights the political forces that extend beyond the killing at 4th Street and Congress Avenue. Travis County District Attorney José Garza rose to power after defeating a more moderate incumbent, Margaret Moore, in the 2020 Democratic primary. In the 2022 governor’s race with Beto O’Rourke, Abbott lost Travis County nearly three to one.

In a statement of his own, Garza thanked the jury for “upending their lives to painstakingly evaluate the evidence and arguments presented by both the State and the Defense.”

Garza contended the legal system already has safeguards in place via the appeals process to ensure Perry’s conviction was valid, and the governor’s “intervention” is “deeply troubling.”

“In our legal system, a jury gets to decide whether a defendant is guilty or innocent — not the Governor,” Garza said.

He added, “I want to thank the Foster family. I want them to know that the Travis County District Attorney’s office will continue to fight for a justice system that treats everyone equally, including Garrett Foster.”

The reversal of Roe v. Wade, the prospect of the Legislature criminalizing gender modification procedures on children, and the viability of other conservative priorities have accentuated conflict between progressive prosecutors and Republican elected officials in Austin.

Foster’s death became a focal point for those protesting unjust uses of force and those angry about demonstrations blocking traffic and rioters threatening motorists.

At Perry’s trial, which lasted two weeks, prosecutors showed evidence that Perry discussed the possibility of getting into a deadly confrontation with protesters. He was working as an Uber driver when he navigated into the intersection and his vehicle was surrounded by demonstrators.

Among other witnesses, the defense called David Fugitt, the lead detective in the case who now works for the Office of the Attorney General. Fugitt told the jury there is no evidence Perry hit anyone with his car; however, some witnesses for the state testified Perry aggressively drove toward them and caused them to fear for their lives.

Perry’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Tuesday morning.

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