Austin DA requests reversal of Daniel Perry pardon

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Austin, Texas’s district attorney on Wednesday requested that a state court of appeals overturn Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) pardon of convicted murderer Daniel Perry, a man made a political pariah by conservatives.

Travis County District Attorney José Garza urged a court to overturn Perry’s pardon in order to “restore the sanctity of the rule of law in this great state,” he said in a press conference.

Perry was convicted of murder in the 2020 killing of Black Lives Matter protester Garrett Foster last year. Perry drove his vehicle into the protest in downtown Austin and shot Foster, who was armed himself. He claimed self-defense, though prosecutors successfully argued that Perry sought out confrontation.

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He was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the murder.

Abbott said after Perry was convicted last year that he would pardon the man if a pardon was recommended. The Texas parole board gave that recommendation last month, and Abbott quickly followed with the pardon. 

Garza denounced the board’s recommendation and Abbott’s pardon promise in a statement last month.

“The Board and the Governor have put their politics over justice and made a mockery of our legal system. They should be ashamed of themselves,” Garza wrote. “Their actions are contrary to the law and demonstrate that there are two classes of people in this state where some lives matter and some lives do not.”

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“They have sent a message to Garrett Foster’s family, to his partner, and to our community that his life does not matter,” he continued. “To the family and friends of Garrett Foster, and to the people of Travis County, we will not stop fighting for justice.”

Following the pardon, a group of 14 Democratic attorneys general across the country urged the Justice Department to seek federal hate crime charges against Perry in an attempt to keep him behind bars. Garza said he supports the effort.

Garza’s request, penned by Holly Taylor, the agency’s director of public integrity, asks the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to overturn Abbott’s pardon, claiming that the governor exceeded his authority.

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Perry’s attorney, Doug O’Connell, told the Austin American-Statesman that the request is merely “political theater.”

“The pardon power of the executive branch is a well-settled Constitutional authority,” O’Connell told the Statesman. “I’m skeptical that Ms. Taylor, who was recently sanctioned by a Travis County Court for violating the Michael Morton Act (hiding evidence), will persuade the Court of Criminal Appeals with a novel theory challenging the Texas Constitution.”

The Hill has reached out to Abbott’s office for comment.

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