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 in 2020. 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."
Perry’s attorneys claim Perry shot Foster in self defense and said they would appeal the guilty verdict. They allege Foster "harassed and terrified" other motorists at the demonstration and that he came "dressed for combat and not for a protest." They also accuse Travis County District Attorney José Garza of misconduct in the case.
Gov. Greg Abbott used the self defense claim when calling for his pardon after the guilty verdict.
“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.
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
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.
Abbott has not publicly mentioned wanting to pardon him since. The pardons board has yet to weigh in on the case.
This story is developing.