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Daniel Perry Obituary, Death: Texas Pardons US Army Sergeant Convicted of Murder for Killing AK-47-Wielding BLM Demonstrator in 2020 Riot

May 16, 2024
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A controversial chapter in Texas legal history closed this week with the pardon of US Army Sergeant Daniel Perry, who was convicted of murdering Garrett Foster, an armed Black Lives Matter protestor, during the 2020 riots in Austin. Perry, initially sentenced to 25 years in prison in April 2023, was pardoned following a unanimous vote by the Texas parole board, spurred by Governor Greg Abbott’s request for a review of the case.

Daniel Perry, a 33-year-old veteran, had served his country with distinction before his life took a drastic turn in July 2020. On that fateful night, Perry, who was driving for Uber to earn extra money while stationed at Fort Hood, found himself amidst a large Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Austin. The peaceful demonstration, like many across the nation, had been sparked by the murder of George Floyd, a Black man killed by a Minneapolis police officer.

As Perry navigated through the protest, he encountered Garrett Foster, a 28-year-old demonstrator legally carrying an AK-47 rifle. According to Perry, Foster raised the rifle at him, prompting Perry to shoot in self-defense. This claim was central to Perry’s defense during his trial, wherein he invoked Texas’ ‘Stand Your Ground’ law, which permits the use of deadly force if one feels threatened.

However, the prosecution painted a different picture. They argued that Perry had driven into the protest intentionally and fired without just cause. Evidence presented at the trial included social media posts and messages from Perry, which depicted him as someone with a deep-seated animosity towards the Black Lives Matter movement. These messages included remarks such as “might go to Dallas to shoot looters” and other derogatory statements about the protests and participants.

The trial also brought to light several messages that were racially charged, including one where Perry referred to BLM protests as a “zoo full of monkeys that are freaking out slinging their sh*t.” Such communications bolstered the prosecution’s argument that Perry’s actions were premeditated rather than a spur-of-the-moment act of self-defense.

The court proceedings were intense, with emotions running high on both sides. Foster’s mother, Sheila Foster, was a constant presence, seeking justice for her son who she described as passionate and brave. “I’m shocked that this is my life and what’s happening. It has overwhelmed me with anxiety and the ability to go on,” Sheila Foster shared in an interview, reflecting on the toll the trial took on her and her family.

In the end, Perry was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to 25 years in prison. The verdict was seen by many as a victory for justice, affirming that lethal force should not be used recklessly. However, the case did not end there. Shortly after the sentencing, Governor Greg Abbott called for the parole board to review Perry’s case for a potential pardon, citing Texas’ robust self-defense laws.

The parole board’s unanimous decision to pardon Perry came after an exhaustive review of the case, including police reports, court records, witness statements, and interviews. “The board’s comprehensive examination delved into the subtleties of Perry’s case,” Governor Abbott noted, reinforcing his stance that the pardon was justified under Texas law.

Perry’s pardon has ignited a firestorm of debate. Supporters argue that it corrects a miscarriage of justice, emphasizing the right to self-defense enshrined in Texas law. “Texas has one of the strongest ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws of self-defense that cannot be nullified by a jury or progressive District Attorney,” Abbott stated, expressing appreciation for the parole board’s thorough investigation.

Critics, however, see the pardon as politically motivated and dangerous, fearing it sets a precedent that undermines the judicial process. They argue it sends a troubling message that vigilantism could be excused under the guise of self-defense, especially when influenced by racial bias. Civil rights advocates have voiced concerns that the decision could embolden similar actions in the future, making it harder to hold individuals accountable for violence against protestors.

For Sheila Foster and those who supported her quest for justice, the pardon feels like a betrayal. “I would appreciate closure and justice in this deal,” Sheila Foster lamented, expressing the deep sense of loss and unresolved grief that continues to haunt her.

The decision has also raised broader questions about the role of political influence in legal decisions and the balance between self-defense laws and public safety. Legal experts and commentators have weighed in, some praising the adherence to self-defense principles, while others warn of the potential implications for future cases involving protests and civil unrest.

Perry, who has now been granted a full pardon and restoration of his firearm rights, is expected to reintegrate into society. His case, however, will likely remain a subject of public and legal scrutiny for years to come. The narratives surrounding his actions and subsequent pardon reflect the deep divisions in American society over issues of race, justice, and the right to protest.

As Perry returns to civilian life, the community remains polarized. Supporters hail him as a victim of a flawed legal system, while detractors see him as a symbol of racial injustice and the dangers of unchecked self-defense claims. This contentious case serves as a reminder of the complexities and conflicts that arise at the intersection of law, race, and politics.

In the aftermath, both Garrett Foster’s and Daniel Perry’s stories will continue to resonate, each highlighting different facets of a deeply divided nation. The debate over Perry’s actions and the governor’s pardon underscores the ongoing struggle to reconcile the principles of justice, safety, and equality in a society grappling with its own divisions.

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