A Texas judge rejected a motion Wednesday to grant Army Sgt. Daniel Perry a new trial after he was found guilty last month of killing a 28-year-old Air Force veteran, Garrett Foster, during an Austin Black Lives Matter protest in 2020. The decision comes as the Army is in the process of pushing Perry out of the service.
“Sgt. Perry’s unit has initiated an administrative separation under Army Regulation 635-200 due to his conviction,” a spokesperson from the 11th Airborne Division – Perry’s unit – told Military.com in a statement. “In the interim, the unit is changing his duty status to civilian confinement.”
Perry, 33, requested the new trial after his lawyers alleged a juror conducted outside research about self-defense and shared it with other jurors, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
Both Perry and Foster are white and were legally carrying weapons when the shooting occurred, according to the Texas Tribune.
In July 2020, Perry was working as an Uber driver when he turned his car toward a group of protestors. His attorneys argued that Foster pointed an AK-47 at Perry, alleging that their client shot the Air Force veteran in self-defense, an argument a jury dismissed.
Court records unsealed last month show that Perry fantasized about shooting "looters" in the months leading up to the murder as the 2020 killing of George Floyd sparked nationwide protests.
"I am imagining standing on a rooftop with a megaphone and a MAGA [Make America Great Again] hat saying looters will be shot, leave the area immediately and then count down to zero or when they start breaking down the front door just opening up like it is open season," Perry wrote in a message to another user on Facebook, according to court records.
"I might go to Dallas to shoot looters," he said in another message law enforcement extracted from Perry's social media accounts.
A day after his murder conviction, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said he would pardon Perry after a Board of Pardons and Paroles request "as soon as it hits my desk."
"Our office continues to stand by the jury's unanimous decision to convict Daniel Perry for the murder of Garrett Foster," Travis County District Attorney José Garza said in a statement to the media Wednesday and shared with Military.com by his office. "We look forward to Mr. Perry's sentencing on Tuesday [May 9] so that the family of Mr. Foster may continue to heal."
The DA's office said Perry was "intentionally and knowingly threatening" at least one protester by driving his car in their direction before the shooting.
The trial earlier last month lasted eight days, with two days for deliberations. The jury found Perry not guilty on a separate charge, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The sentencing for murder conviction, however, has Perry facing 99 years in prison, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
His sentencing is set for May 9.
-- Drew F. Lawrence can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @df_lawrence.