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Daniel Perry was released from prison an hour after Governor Abbott's pardon


Daniel Perry, a former Army sergeant convicted of killing a Black Lives Matter protester in downtown Austin in 2020, was released from prison Thursday an hour after Gov. Greg Abbott signed a pardon proclamation in a case that unleashed a political and legal storm.

In a series of rapid developments in less than two hours, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles recommended that Perry be pardoned for the murder conviction. Abbott then granted Perry a full pardon, which led to his release from the Mac Stringfellow Unit in Rosharon, about 20 miles south of downtown Houston.

Perry, 36 at the time of his sentencing in April 2023, could also apply to have his record expunged, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

the board announced his recommendation to pardon Perry and restore his firearms rights in a statement posted on his website Thursday. Its decision came after a “thorough review of relevant documents, from police reports to court records, witness statements and interviews with people connected to the case,” the statement said.

In July 2020, Perry shot and killed Garrett Foster after Perry walked into a racial justice protest on Congress Avenue. Perry claimed he shot Foster, who was carrying an AK-47 rifle, in self-defense. During Perry's trial last year, prosecutors argued that Perry had sought a confrontation.

“Texas has one of the strongest 'Stand Your Ground' self-defense laws that cannot be overturned by a jury or a progressive district attorney,” Abbott said in a statement Thursday. “I thank the Board for its thorough investigation and approve its recommendation for clemency.”

In a proclamation On Thursday, Abbott took aim at Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza, writing that Garza “demonstrated an improper, unethical and biased use of his position in prosecuting Daniel Scott Perry.”

Less than 24 hours after a jury in April 2023 found Perry guilty of murder, Abbott said. Social media that he would approve a pardon if the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles recommended it. The announcement came after prominent conservative figures he called on him to overturn Perry's conviction.

Shortly after Abbott's announcement, a state district judge released court records containing Perry's unpublished social media posts and messages. which contained racist rhetoric.

“Daniel Perry was imprisoned for 372 days and lost the military career he loved,” Doug O'Connell, an attorney representing Perry, said in a statement. “The action by Governor Abbott and the Board of Pardons corrects the courtroom farce that occurred more than a year ago and represents justice in this case.

“I spoke with Daniel Perry this afternoon. He is excited and excited to be free. Daniel is also optimistic about his future.”

Garza condemned the actions of the parole board and Abbott, writing in a statement that they “have put their politics above justice and made a mockery of our legal system.”

“They have sent a message to the family of Garrett Foster, his partner and our community that his life does not matter. They have sent the message that the service of the members of the Travis County community who served on the grand jury and from the trial jury it doesn't matter,” Garza said. “We will not stop fighting for justice.”

In a written statement to the American-Statesman, Foster's partner, Whitney Mitchell, denounced Abbott's decision and said there was evidence Perry intended to kill a protester.

“I loved Garrett Foster. I thought we would grow old together,” Mitchell said in the statement, provided through his attorney, Angelica Cogliano. “He was the love of my life. He still is. I am heartbroken by this lawlessness. Governor Abbott has shown him that he only cares about certain lives. He has made us all less safe.

“With this pardon, the governor has desecrated the life of a murdered Texan, impugned the jury's just verdict, and declared that citizens can be killed with impunity as long as they hold political views different from those in power.”

Historically, gubernatorial pardons of high-profile or controversial criminals in Texas have been the exception, not the rule.

Abbott often announces his pardons or grants of clemency in conjunction with the holiday season, and they often involve people convicted of nonviolent crimes committed years, and sometimes decades, earlier.

Three days before Christmas 2023, the governor granted three requests for pardons and clemency. One was for someone who was convicted of burglary in 1990 and sentenced to two years of deferred adjudication. Another was for a 1978 theft that was punishable by a $500 fine. The third was for a 2010 marijuana possession conviction that resulted in a three-day jail sentence.

Two years earlier, offenders with slightly more serious sentences, one for robbery with a probation sentence and one for possession of a weapon where alcohol is served that did not carry jail time, were among eight holiday pardons issued by Abbott .

This is a developing story; check back for details.


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