A Travis County jury on Friday found Uber driver Daniel Perry guilty of murder in the shooting death of Austin protester Garrett Foster in 2020. Jurors deliberated 17 hours over two days to reach their decision after an eight-day trial. Jurors also found Perry not guilty of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in connection with shooting in front of another protester.
Perry buried her head in the chest of one of her lawyers, and after the sentence was read, she was loudly shot. Foster’s wife, Whitney Mitchell, hugged friends and cried after hearing the verdict.
“We’re happy with the verdict and we’re also very sorry for the family,” Stephen Foster, the victim’s father, said outside the courtroom.
More:A trial begins in the death of Austin protester Garrett Foster. Was it in defense or murder?
Mitchell declined to comment.
Even Perry’s relatives did not speak to reporters as they rushed out of the courtroom.
Friends of Garrett Foster, among several who testified at the trial, also declined to comment outside the courtroom after the verdict.
“I am grateful for our dedicated prosecutors and victim advocates who tried this case. They worked diligently to present a complete and accurate list of facts,” Travis County District Attorney José Garza said in a statement. “Our hearts continue to break for the Foster family. We hope this sentence brings closure and peace to the victim’s family.
Judge Clifford Brown said he has time for a hearing on Tuesday, but will confirm with lawyers for both sides on Monday.
During closing arguments Thursday morning, Perry’s defense attorneys said he had no choice but to shoot Garrett Foster five times when he approached Perry’s car with an AK-47. Prosecutors said Perry had several choices, including driving before firing his revolver.
Perry, who is an Army sergeant, was walking down Fourth Street on the night of July 25, 2020, and turned right onto Congress Avenue, where the Black Lives Matter crowd was marching. Perry stopped and several bystanders approached his car, including Foster, police said. The protesters said they were afraid of being harassed by someone in the car. Defense attorneys said Foster, 28, pointed an AK-47 at Perry and Perry, 37, fired in self-defense.
Whether Perry, motivated by anti-protester sentiments, provoked the shooting into the crowd of marchers, or whether Foster fired his guns at Perry and Perry fired in self-defense, is at the heart of the much-anticipated trial, which began on March 28. in Travis County 147th District Court.
A few witnesses at trial said Foster never raised his weapons with Perry. Perry, who did not testify, told police that Foster did. There was no video or photograph presented at trial that showed the position of Foster’s gun when he was shot.
Prosecutor Guillermo Gonzalez said Perry’s social media posts show he clearly had strong feelings against the protesters, even saying people could get away with the shooting in Texas. He became angry when he turned to the crowd because he wanted to confront the woman who was asking for money, Gonzalez said.
“This is an old story about a man who couldn’t keep his anger under control,” Gonzalez said. “It is not about the police, nor about the refusal of the marchers.” Gonzalez said Perry aggravated the attack by pushing a lethal weapon into the crowd, even though he could clearly see the protesters advancing from three different angles before they reached Congress Avenue, Gonzalez said.
“Garrett Foster had every right to go up to him and see what the heck was going on and he had every right to do it with a deadly weapon,” Gonzalez said.
Defense attorney Doug O’Connell said prosecutors wanted jurors to “believe that (Perry) had this bad idea when he turned right.”
“The attackers didn’t know anything about Perry when they attacked the car and put her in,” he said, “and Daniel didn’t choose, and it could have happened to anyone.”
O’Connell argued that Foster was dressed for combat during the protest, including wearing a neoprene jacket under his shirt and carrying an AK-47, a club and a knife. Perry was wearing a T-shirt, shorts and flip-flops, the attorney said.
“Garrett Foster is revered for his war,” O’Connell said. “Daniel Perry dresses for the beach.”