AUSTIN (KXAN) — A 76-page document unsealed Thursday contains a trove of social media posts, texts and search history for Daniel Perry, who was convicted of killing Black Lives Matter protester Garrett Foster in 2020.
The document was not used during his trial, but they point to evidence the State intends to introduce during the punishment phase. A judge, not a jury, will decide Perry’s sentence, which was a decision the defense made. A date has not yet been set for that step in the legal process.
The Travis County DA’s Office released this statement to KXAN.
“Yesterday, the Criminal District Judge presiding over this case ordered the material released in anticipation of the upcoming sentencing hearing for the Defendant in this case. Such orders are common in any criminal trial because the rules of evidence that apply when determining the appropriate sentence for a defendant are different from the rules that apply when a jury is determining a defendant’s innocence or guilt. The District Attorney’s Office looks forward to making a full presentation of the record in this case to the Board of Pardons and Paroles.”Travis County DA’s Office statement
What does the document show?
The documents include a voicemail from a woman identifying herself as his mother, telling Perry to stop posting “bad things” on Facebook “because it’s really hurting people’s feelings and it’s wrong.” A text from a contact saved in Perry’s phone as “Dad” shared a similar sentiment.
While some Facebook messages had been introduced at trial — including messages where Perry discussed a shooting between a driver and protester in Seattle and how he would work to get away with a similar situation — these documents reveal far more.
Dozens of posts on Facebook and messages between friends focus on racial justice protests across the country and in Central Texas, as well as memes and articles about protesters being shot or run over.
PERRY: I might have to kill a few people on my way to work they are rioting outside my apartment complex
FRIEND: Can you legally do so?
PERRY: If they attack me or try to pull me out my car than yes. If I just do it because I am driving then no.Conversation on May 31, 2020. Garrett Foster was killed in July 2020
Some of the messages and memes used derogatory language to refer to Black people.
Read the document below. Warning: Contains profanity.
Perry’s search history included “protest in Austin today” “protestors in Seattle get shot” “unarmed black men killed by police” and “degrees of murder charges” and “does the federal government have the ballistics of every firearm sold legally,” according to the documents.
The documents also include Perry’s criminal history, detailing a 2005 arrest on an assault causing bodily injury charge. Perry entered a guilty plea and received a fine and deferred adjudication.
Perry’s attorneys respond
Perry’s attorneys have filed a motion for a new trial, arguing in part they believe evidence showing Foster’s motive, intent and state of mind when he approached Perry’s car should have been included.
After the verdict and Gov. Greg Abbott’s request to get a pardon process started, Perry’s attorneys released a statement saying it is focused “on the upcoming sentencing hearing and marshaling evidence related to Sgt. Perry’s character and his service to our country as a member of our military for the past 12 years. Daniel was most crushed that his conviction will end his Army service. He loved being a soldier for our country. Many, many people have reached out to express a desire to speak on Daniel’s behalf.”
On Friday, Perry’s attorneys shared statements from two men who identified themselves as African American and said they met Perry in the Army.
“I can confidently say that Daniel Perry is not a racist. I have known Daniel for over five years as a colleague and a friend. I have known him to be nothing but a professional, hard-working soldier whose statements are being taken out of context. I know Daniel Perry would take a bullet for me,” Sgt. Traveon Napper wrote.
Ronald Wilson called Perry “one of my best friends.”
“While in the Army, I witnessed Daniel interact with people of many different races and he treated everyone the same. Anyone who knows Daniel will tell you that he’s the definition of the Army values: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage. I know Daniel would do anything for me and I would do anything for him,” Wilson wrote.
Abbott’s office also shared, in response to the unsealed documents’ effect on the pardon process, “All pertinent information is for the Board of Pardons and Paroles to consider, as this is part of the review process required by the Texas Constitution.”