Daniel Perry sentenced to 25 years in prison for murder of Garrett Foster at BLM protest in Austin
Daniel Perry was sentenced to 25 years in prison Wednesday for the murder of Garrett Foster during a Black Lives Matter protest in 2020.
The sentencing comes almost a week after a Travis County judge denied the 36-year-old's request for a new trial.
Perry, an Army sergeant who was stationed at Fort Hood, drove into a crowd of protesters in downtown Austin. He repeatedly shot 28-year-old Foster, an Air Force veteran, as he approached his car carrying an AK-47. Both men were legally armed.
At Perry's sentencing hearing Tuesday, prosecutors presented documents a judge made public a few weeks ago that showed Perry had a history of making racist remarks on social media, including using the N-word and re-sharing offensive memes.
The state also brought forward Foster’s widow, Whitney Mitchell, a quadruple amputee who uses a wheelchair. Mitchell relied on Foster as her caretaker for 11 years.
Through tears, Mitchell detailed how Foster left the Air Force to take care of her — helping her in and out of bed, in the bathroom and through design school.
"You know, he'd help me wash my face; I am not able to physically wash my face," Mitchell said. "Do my hair, like he would learn how to do my hair."
The defense team introduced psychologist Greg Hupp, who had reviewed Perry’s mental health. He stated Perry had PTSD and was on the autism spectrum, causing him to see things in “black and white.” Because of this, Hupp deduced, Perry lacked the social skills to see issues in his racist posts.
“For him to share different memes and different social commentary, he doesn't see his friend who's an African American or Latino, or mixed race or whatever, he doesn't see that," Hupp said. "He sees his battle buddies, who he can share these rather crass and racist jokes with.”
Before sentencing Perry to 25 years on Wednesday, Judge Clint Brown addressed comments made by the defense about jury misconduct.
"Mr. Perry got a fair and impartial trial," he said. "And after considering all of the evidence at this trial, this jury found Mr. Perry guilty [of] the offense of murder.”
After the sentencing, Foster's family was given the chance to address Perry directly.
“He loved everybody, and he loved everybody like Jesus would,” his mother, Sheila Foster, said.
Perry’s attorneys said they would appeal the sentence and request a new trial.
“There [is] other evidence that was excluded that will come out over the course of the appeal and the pardon application, which we will submit,” attorney Doug O’Connell said. “We're not done fighting for getting this hearing and we won't ever quit.”
Perry's attorneys claim he shot Foster in self defense. They allege Foster “harassed and terrified” other motorists at the demonstration and that he came “dressed for combat and not for a protest.” Attorney Clint Broden said they have evidence Foster was prohibited from carrying a firearm in the Air Force and was released on mental health issues.
Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza’s office said it has not seen or heard of such evidence.
The attorneys also accuse Garza of misconduct in the case.
Gov. Greg Abbott used the self defense claim when calling for Perry's pardon after the guilty verdict.
I am working as swiftly as Texas law allows regarding the pardon of Sgt. Perry. pic.twitter.com/HydwdzneMU— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) April 8, 2023
"Texas has one of the strongest 'Stand Your Ground' laws of self-defense that cannot be nullified by a jury or a progressive District Attorney," Abbott said.
Shortly after the governor asked the Texas Pardons and Parole Board to review the case, the judge released the documents showing Perry's racist remarks.
Perry’s lawyers said Wednesday they haven’t heard from the governor, but plan to proceed with their own appeal.
KUT reached out to the governor's office for comment, but has not heard back.
Perry will be held in Travis County jail while his lawyers appeal.