AUSTIN (KXAN) — A jury found Army Sergeant Daniel Perry guilty of murder after he shot and killed Black Lives Matter protester Garrett Foster in 2020.
Perry was in town from Killeen to make more money through Uber in the Austin area. A jury would find his run-in with protesters downtown to be provoked by him, roughly three years later.
His claim for self-defense fell short, though the argument was strong. Perry could be sentenced as early as Tuesday. He faces up to life in prison.
So, what now?
Reporter Jala Washington covered Perry’s trial in its entirety. She sat down with former Travis County assistant district attorney, and current criminal defense attorney, Rick Cofer. She asked him some questions, many about what could possibly come next.
Q: “Were you shocked to hear that the jury found Daniel Perry guilty of murder?”
A: “I wasn’t shocked, but I was surprised…This is a type of case that had a strong defense claim. A group of protesters surrounded Mr. Perry’s vehicle. He was surprised someone with an AK-47 approached his vehicle. Those are generally facts that in my experience, a Travis County jury is going to associate with self-defense.”
Q: “What are your thoughts on the strongest evidence the state presented that essentially was able to persuade jurors to find Perry guilty?”
A: “Social media, social media, social media. The District Attorney was able to present posts made by Mr. Perry, related to his desire to engage violently with protesters. In my experience, jurors believe text messages. They believe statements, and they believe social media posts because they represent…what they’re really thinking…Most likely, what was behind this guilty verdict was that the Travis County jury…felt that his social media messages showed that he went into this encounter with a potential intent to cause harm and not defend himself.”
Q: Do you think that this could affect self-defense cases moving forward?
A: “Statewide, I don’t think it’s going to have that much significance. And even within Travis County, I think this is an exceptionally peculiar set of facts. Here you have an army sergeant, you have a protester that came out of the response to the George Floyd murder. Both of them were armed. Law enforcement was in some ways on the side of the defendant here instead of the side of the victim. This is one of those cases that’s such an outlier that I don’t think it sets a precedent for what happens moving forward. That being said, it does conform with one rule that I’ve seen here in Austin. Travis County juries do not like gun violence. Travis County juries do not like when firearms are involved in a criminal case. And in this instance, where both people brought guns to the incident, they erred on the side of the victim.”
Q: Can Perry appeal this verdict?
A: “An appeal is not likely to be successful. People think an appeal is basically a do-over or a second chance. That’s not the case. The appellate courts review trials for reversible error, for violations of due process or ineffective assistance of counsel. Based on my viewing of the trial, that’s likely not the situation.”
Q: “Is there any possibility for down the road for Governor Abbott to see this and step in and offer a pardon?”
A: “I think people are looking for a political angle in this case…You are significantly more likely to win the lottery than you are to receive a pardon from the governor…In a murder case, like this, there is no winning, there is loss. There is grief, there is sadness. The family of Garrett Foster, hopefully, will have some solace and some grace from this verdict. And I hope that Mr. Perry’s family can find peace as well.”
Editor’s note: After this article published, Abbott called for Perry’s pardon citing Texas’ “Stand Your Ground” law. Read more about the governor’s request here.