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Texas' high court throws out challenge to Gov. Abbott's pardon of Daniel Perry

Texas' highest criminal court says Gov. Greg Abbott's pardon of Daniel Perry is constitutional.

Earlier this month, Travis County District Attorney José Garza challenged the governor's pardon of the former Army sergeant, who was convicted of murdering a demonstrator in a July 2020 protest in downtown Austin. Garza asked the Court of Criminal Appeals to review Abbott's pardon, arguing it ran afoul of the Texas Constitution. The court rejected that challenge Wednesday.

Perry fatally shot Garrett Foster, an Air Force veteran, in 2020 during a protest in downtown Austin. Perry, who was driving for Uber at the time, drove into a planned protest downtown, got into an altercation with Foster and then shot him multiple times. Both men were armed and legally carrying their weapons under Texas law.

Garza's office charged Perry with murder and he was tried and sentenced to 25 years last year. After that verdict, Gov. Abbott vowed to pardon Perry. Last month, the state's Bureau of Pardons and Parole, whose members were all appointed by the governor, recommended Perry's pardon and Abbott formally pardoned him.

Abbott argued Perry was within his rights to defend himself, citing the state's stand-your-ground laws.

Perry's family — and Garza's office — argued the pardon was political and that the governor, who called for the pardon on social media, had an undue influence in the pardon review process.

Foster's mother, Sheila, said this month that Perry's killing of her son was "premeditated" and that the pardon could set a precedent for politically motivated pardons.

"We are setting a precedent for anybody else who wants to copycat that — and for any other governor who wants to overstep outside of their role and undermine the justice system that we have in place, that has worked," she said.

KUT reached out to Garza's office, Perry's attorney and the attorney representing Foster's family but has not yet heard back.

With the pardon, Perry is now, once again, allowed to carry and own a firearm. His attorneys have signaled that they will try to reinstate his military service. Perry received an other-than-honorable discharge from the Army in March. Perry's attorneys have also said they'll move to expunge the murder charge from his record.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Copyright 2024 KUT 90.5

Andrew Weber is a freelance reporter and associate editor for KUT News. A graduate of St. Edward's University with a degree in English, Andrew has previously interned with The Texas Tribune, The Austin American-Statesman and KOOP Radio.