AUSTIN (KXAN) — It’s now up to 12 jurors to decide the fate of a man accused of murder in the deadly shooting of a Black Lives Matter protester.
A diverse group of a dozen jurors will decide whether Perry, an Army sergeant, is guilty or not guilty of murdering a protester, Garrett Foster, in July 2020 in downtown Austin.
Closing arguments for the Daniel Perry murder trial concluded Thursday morning.
On Wednesday, the courtroom was at capacity with some people waiting in an outside hallway on the final day of testimony for the trial.
During opening statements last week, state attorneys said Foster was out protesting police violence every day in the summer of 2020. Foster was shot and later died while out protesting the night of July 25, 2020.
The defense’s argument from the beginning is that Perry — swarmed by protesters — had to defend himself. Several witnesses admitted they kicked, hit and even banged on Perry’s car.
Perry’s attorneys released a statement during jury selection, saying, “We just ask people to put themselves in the position of being trapped in a car, being swarmed by a crowd of protesters assaulting the car from all sides, while a masked man runs up to the car brandishing an assault rifle, 130 rounds of ammunition, an asp and a knife. Then, picture the rifle starting to raise from an already low-ready position. If people can put themselves in that position, we are confident as to what the verdict will be in this case.”
The defense and state both rest as of Wednesday afternoon. Now, attorneys are preparing for their closing arguments.
On Wednesday, former Austin Police Department Homicide Detective David Fugitt testified. He was the final witness out of nearly 40.
Fugitt is now a member of the criminal prosecutorial division of the Texas Attorney General’s Office. He was with APD as a homicide investigator for nearly 30 years.
He spent months investigating Perry’s case, and even put together a nearly 900-page police report.
His testimony zeroed in on many of the facts already presented over the course of the trial. He doubled down on what a previous expert witness, Jason Evans said Tuesday: Perry was slowing down as he made his turn into the crowd of protesters.
According to Fugitt, Perry was in a “turn-only” lane, which is why he drove toward them.
Fugitt also testified Foster was in a “tactical stance,” with his rifle raised at Perry’s car door. He came to that conclusion based on medical examiner records.
“All the rounds that enter the body are from left to right,” Fugitt said. “That’s much different than if he was standing at the door…And if the rounds went through and through, they’d be from front to back…This is consistent with the photos that…Garrett Foster is clearly in a bladed tactical stance at that door.”
The state, questioning Fugitt, brought up a situation where Fugitt initially had the wrong person arrested in a homicide case, and later corrected his mistake.
“It’s no doubt that you’re a very experienced and well-credentialed law enforcement officer and many well-deserved commendations…But you have been wrong on homicide cases before, haven’t you?” state attorney Guillermo Gonzalez asked.
“I have, yes sir,” Fugitt said.
Fugitt never recommended that Perry be arrested the night he shot and killed Foster.
“There was a legitimate argument for self-defense,” Fugitt said.
At one point KXAN wondered if Perry might take the stand. The defense said they needed time to decide whether they had one final witness after Fugitt.
That ultimately didn’t happen.