AUSTIN (KXAN) — The first steps of a trial for the man accused of shooting and killing Austin protester Garrett Foster in July 2020 happened Monday with jury selection and continue Tuesday with opening statements.
Daniel Perry, an Army sergeant, was indicted in the case in 2021 on felony charges of murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and a misdemeanor charge of deadly conduct.
Investigators say Foster, 28, had been participating in a march against police violence when he was shot and killed.
Police said Perry was driving downtown when he turned onto Congress Avenue near Fourth Street. Protesters — including Foster, who was armed — surrounded the car, and Perry fired from inside the car, the Austin Police Department said.
Perry’s attorney Clint Broden said, at the time, the shooting was in self-defense.
“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,” Broden said in a statement.
Jury selection for the trial began Monday, according to Perry’s attorneys Clint Broden and Douglas O’Connell.
Separately, Foster’s family filed a lawsuit against Perry and Uber, whom he said he was driving for at the time, in May 2022.
According to UT law professor Jennifer Lauren, self-defense is more protective of those claiming it, in Texas especially.
“What the prosecution is going to have to establish in order to attain [a] murder conviction is that the defendant, essentially, purposely or knowingly took the life of the victim. [They] wanted to do it, or was aware that they were going to be doing it,” Lauren said.
“There’s always a high level of scrutiny in a murder case, there is an especially high level of scrutiny in a murder case where there is significant media attention,” criminal defense attorney and former Travis County Assistant District Attorney Rick Cofer said. “I personally know the three prosecutors who are trying this case on behalf of the district attorney’s office, all three of them are excellent trial attorneys, all three of them take their oath quite seriously, which is not to seek conviction, but to see that justice is done.”
As Foster’s family still copes with losing him, they’re now waiting to see how the process plays out, almost three years later.
In a statement, the attorney representing Foster’s fiancé said:
“We are grateful that a jury is finally going to hear this case because we have been waiting for a long time to see justice for Garrett,” the statement reads.