The jury in the Daniel Perry murder trial returned its verdict Friday afternoon, April 7, declaring the active-duty Army sergeant guilty of the murder of Black Lives Matter protester Garrett Foster. He will be sentenced on Tuesday.
After the verdict was pronounced, Perry collapsed, sobbing, into the arms of a defense attorney. Whitney Mitchell, Foster’s fiancée, wept and hugged friends and members of Foster’s family.
After Perry was led away, Foster’s father, Stephen, delivered a brief statement in the waiting area outside the courtroom: “We’re thankful for the legal team that represented us, and the jury, and we’re happy with the verdict,” he said, his voice barely audible among a circle of reporters. “We’re very sorry for [Perry’s] family, as well, and we’re just glad it’s over.”
Both families had attended every day of the emotionally exhausting two week trial, with the last two days spent waiting on the jury’s deliberations, which took 16 hours. They were joined by reporters and many of the protesters who had marched with Foster and Mitchell on the night of the killing.
That evening, July 25, 2020, Perry pulled his car into a group of about 20 protesters marching for Black lives at the corner of Fourth Street and Congress Avenue in downtown Austin. He stopped and protesters rushed to his car and began slapping and kicking it. Foster, a 28-year-old Air Force veteran openly carrying an AK-47, approached the driver’s side door and made some kind of comment. Perry opened the window and fired five shots at Foster’s chest, killing him.
After turning himself in, Perry told Austin police officers that he’d fired in self-defense when Foster threatened him with the AK-47; police believed him and let him go. His attorneys made the same argument at the trial with testimony from experts who said that Foster was in position to shoot Perry and could have done so within a split second. But prosecutors with the District Attorney’s Office showed the jury text messages and social media posts Perry had written demonstrating that he harbored a deep hatred for BLM protesters and fantasized about killing them.
José Garza, the district attorney who oversaw Perry’s murder trial, was running for the office at the time of Foster’s murder. After APD officers released Perry, Garza promised that, if elected, he would present the case to a grand jury. A year later he did and Perry was indicted for murder. Now, almost three years later, Garza has won the most important case of his term thus far.
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