Texas Man Convicted of Killing B.L.M. Protester Sentenced to 25 Years

A judge in Texas sentenced Daniel S. Perry, an Army sergeant, to 25 years in prison on Wednesday for the fatal 2020 shooting of an armed Black Lives Matter protester, Garrett Foster, a former aircraft mechanic for the Air Force.

Judge Cliff Brown of the 147th Criminal District Court in Travis County handed down the sentence the day after an emotional hearing in which prosecutors presented evidence of Mr. Perry’s past racist online comments and described him as a “loaded gun.” Defense lawyers offered testimony from a psychiatrist that Mr. Perry suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and autism, as well as from Black soldiers who had served with Mr. Perry in the Army and who described him as a trustworthy military colleague who never displayed racist tendencies.

“We didn’t care about color,” said Ronald Wilson, one of the Army witnesses, who said he had “spent a good amount of time” with Sgt. Perry at Fort Hood, Texas. Mr. Wilson said they often played golf or went to the movies together. “I’d follow him to hell and back,” he said of the defendant.

Mr. Perry, who was convicted of murder by a jury last month, stood impassively in striped gray jail clothes as the judge handed down the sentence. The possible sentences ranged from five years to life in prison.

Already at the intersection of heated debates over the 2020 racial justice protests and the self-defense rights of gun owners, the Perry case gained national attention. Conservative commentators like Tucker Carlson argued that Mr. Perry was justified in fatally shooting Mr. Foster, 28, during the protest on a downtown Austin street on the night of July 25, 2020.

The day after the guilty verdict was announced, Gov. Greg Abbott took the unusual step of calling for the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to investigate the case, and urged the board to recommend a pardon so that he could grant it.

Mr. Perry’s lawyers argued at trial that the shooting was in self-defense and that Mr. Foster, who was carrying a military-style rifle at the time, had raised the weapon at him. But prosecutors said that Mr. Perry had a history of showing animus toward protesters online and had driven his vehicle at the crowd, setting off the fatal confrontation.

Sentencing in the case was delayed while the judge weighed the question of whether to order a new trial over what defense lawyers called the improper introduction of information by at least one juror. The judge decided last week that the juror’s actions did not undermine the verdict.

Lawyers for Mr. Perry said they would appeal his conviction. But a pardon decision is likely to come well before that process is completed.

The pardons board has already begun to examine the case, following Mr. Abbott’s request. The Travis County District Attorney, José Garza, a Democrat, has asked to present evidence to the board. Mr. Perry’s lawyers have offered to cooperate as well.

Under Texas law, Mr. Abbott cannot grant a pardon unless it has first been recommended to him by the board. That process usually comes long after conviction and sentencing.

It was not clear when the board — made up of seven people appointed by the governor — would make its recommendation.

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