AUSTIN (KXAN) — This weekend, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott directed the Texas Board of Pardon and Paroles to expedite the review process of a pardon for Daniel Perry.

On Friday, a jury found Perry guilty of murder in the deadly July 2020 shooting in downtown Austin of a former Air Force veteran and Black Lives Matter protester, Garrett Foster. Foster was armed at the time of the shooting. Perry, who admitted to the shooting, was driving for Uber in Austin at the time of the incident. His attorneys argued the shooting was in self-defense.

Texas’ pardon process starts with the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. The board can submit a pardon recommendation to the governor, who then can approve the pardon.

KXAN reached out to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to ask if members have begun the review of Perry’s case, and how long the process will take. In a statement, a public information officer wrote:

“Chairman Gutierrez, the Presiding Officer of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles has received a request from Governor Abbott asking for an expedited investigation, along with a recommendation as to a pardon for U.S. Army Sergeant Daniel Perry. The board will be commencing that investigation immediately. Upon completion, the board will report to the governor on the investigation and make recommendations to the governor.”

Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles statement

Foster’s fiancé, Whitney Mitchell was with him when he was killed. She said she was upset when she heard Abbott wants to pardon Perry.

“I was disgusted,” Mitchell said. “It was shocking to see to see that after everything that me and Garrett’s family have been through…I was so relieved to see justice for Garrett, and then just for all of that, to just be completely taken away, it is extremely horrifying.”

There’s no clear timeline on how long the review process will take the board. However, legal experts tell KXAN, to their knowledge, this is the first time Abbott has recommended a pardon review process.

“There’s no history of Governor Abbott requesting the Pardons and Parole Board to issue him a specific recommendation,” criminal defense attorney and former Travis County Assistant District Attorney Rick Cofer said. “It goes the other way around.”

Due process isn’t complete in Perry’s case, since he hasn’t been sentenced yet. On the Travis County Court Docket website, it showed his sentencing hearing was set for the morning of April 11.

On Monday, the website showed the hearing is canceled for now. KXAN reached out to the court coordinator, who said there is no set date for Perry’s sentencing hearing.

Perry’s attorney told KXAN its focus right now “is 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,” the attorney said.

The attorney added the pardon process is “outside our control” and said they haven’t been involved in the process at all.

“It’s unprecedented in the history of the state of Texas. Nothing like this has ever happened,” Cofer said. “Getting a pardon from the governor is more rare than winning the lottery or being struck by lightning.”

Who’s on the Texas Board of Pardon and Paroles?

There are seven governor-appointed members on the Texas Board of Pardon and Paroles.

Each member serves six-year terms and isn’t limited on the number of terms they can serve, according to the Texas Board of Pardon and Paroles website.

Here’s a list of the current board members:

The board members are in districts across the state including Gatesville, Amarillo, Huntsville, Palestine, Angleton, San Antonio and Austin.

The majority of the board members have extensive experience in law enforcement or the criminal justice field.

Previous pardons

Abbott has recently pardoned Texans within the past few years. However, according to Cofer, pardons are usually for low-level crimes like theft.

Under the Texas constitution, the governor can only grant a pardon if it’s first recommended by the board of pardons and paroles.

Abbott has granted clemency to 10 Texans during the past two Decembers.

In December 2022, the governor granted a pardon to two Texans. One person was convicted on an assault charge, and the other of selling alcohol to a minor.

In December 2021, Abbott granted parole to eight people. Four of those pardons were for theft crimes, two were for burglaries, one was for unlawfully carrying of a weapon and another was for tax evasion.

What does being pardoned mean?

A full pardon restores the following civil rights, according to the Texas Board of Paroles website:

  1. Right to vote.
  2. Right to hold public office.
  3. Right to serve on a jury.
  4. Licensing privileges for certain types of employment (however, you must check with the appropriate licensing authority to determine if a full pardon is necessary to be licensed). If available, please provide written documentation from that authority advising that you will not be considered for a license without receiving a full pardon. If the licensing authority will not provide you with written documentation, please obtain and furnish the name of the licensing authority, phone number, and name of the person you contacted.
  5. Right to serve as Executor or Administrator of an estate.

It also allows a person the option to have all arrest records tied to a conviction expunged from their record.

Mitchell just wants the board to closely examine the facts, before it makes recommendations to Abbott.

“I’m just asking them, could they please look into it?,” Mitchell said. “It’s all right there.”