(AUSTIN)—  It’s now up to 12 jurors to decide the fate of an Army sergeant accused of murder in the July 2020 fatal shooting of a Black Lives Matter protester.

The jury deliberated from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday.

Closing arguments for the Daniel Perry murder trial wrapped up just before 1 p.m. on Thursday. Perry’s defense has maintained the fatal shooting of Garrett Foster was in self-defense. The state argues Perry instigated the crowd, driving into the crowd and causing protesters to respond by hitting and kicking his car and also screaming at him.

No matter what the jury decides: a fiancé, caretaker, son and friend lost his life in the incident.

“He took care of all my needs,” Foster’s fiancée, Whitney Mitchell, testified the first week of Perry’s trial. “He helped me get dressed in the morning. He helped me take a bath.”

Attorneys on both sides did all they could to make their final case Thursday.

Related coverage:

“He slammed on his brakes,” state attorneys said. “There’s nobody on the right passenger side. Nobody’s touching his car. Nobody’s in the front. He could have continued to drive.” 

The defense was very demonstrative in its closing, as it’s been throughout the trial.

“The one thing I am going to implore you to do…take a minute…close your eyes and picture the swarm around the car. And as you’re picturing that, picture this,” Perry’s attorney said as he forcefully kicked a car door prop in the courtroom.

The state, relied on some of its strongest evidence during closing arguments: Perry’s social media posts talking about anti-protest/pro-police feelings, and private messages between Perry and a friend talking about a similar situation where a driver shot a protester six weeks prior to the shooting in Austin.  

“These conversations with Michael Holcomb are starting to look like a playbook for what you would do if you wanted to use force,” the state argued. “He said, ‘I will repeatedly say,’ not, ‘I would be in fear for my life, this is terrifying,’ that, I’m going to say, ‘I’m in fear for my life.’ All of that is in Daniel Perry’s head…when he drove into this crowd.”  

The defense tells jurors it wasn’t possible for Perry to drive off fast enough, arguing he had three choices:

  1. Drive off and be shot.
  2. Sit inside of thecar and wait to see what happens.
  3. Defend himself. 

“And that’s exactly what he did,” Perry’s defense said. “These [the state attorneys] are the people with the burden of proof, ladies and gentlemen, the state didn’t bring you any science…there’s not one of us… in that same position…if we’re honest with ourselves, we wouldn’t just sit and pray.” 

While each side works to persuade whether Perry is guilty of murder, all attorneys recognize the sadness and weight of the case.

“It is OK to feel sorry for Garrett Foster,” the defense said. “He was a human being, he loved and was loved. But Garrett Foster made a choice that night. He came ready for a war. Not a protest.”  

The state focuses on Perry’s actions not being self-defense.

“Even in Texas, this isn’t a good shoot, and we’re going to ask you to consider that as you deliberate,” the state said.

The state still argues Perry sped into the crowd of protesters, though that was disputed by the defense’s expert witnesses who used science and data to track the speed of his car. Those witnesses testified he was slowing down.   

Perry faces one count for murder and another count for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.