Gov. Abbott calls for Daniel Perry pardon after found guilty of murder in death of protester in 2020
AUSTIN, Texas - Governor Abbott says he may pardon a man convicted of murdering a Black Lives Matter protester in Austin.
On Friday, April 7, after deliberating for nearly 16 hours, the jury in the Daniel Perry murder trial reached a verdict.
Daniel Perry was found guilty of murder in death of Black Lives Matter protester Garrett Foster on July 25, 2020.
He was not found guilty of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
RELATED: Daniel Perry found guilty of murder in death of Austin protester in 2020, jury states
Democratic analyst Ed Espinoza and Matt Mackowiak, chair of the Travis County GOP, joined FOX 7 Austin's Mike Warren to discuss.
MIKE WARREN: Matt Mackowiak, starting with you. What do you think of the governor saying he's going to pardon this person?
MATT MACKOWIAK: Yeah, I don't think it's a huge surprise. The governor obviously supports our Stand Your Ground laws, which kind of enshrine self-defense in law. And while the jury came to one conclusion, it's pretty clear the governor's come to another. And both of those conclusions are available to each of them. If you don't like the pardon power, you need to elect a new governor, or at least how the governor is using it. Of course, he just got elected by 11 percentage points in this case. The state constitution requires that he receive a recommendation from the Border Patrol and pardons. So that will take, I imagine, a few days or weeks. But it does appear that he intends to pardon on the basis that this military officer believed his life was at risk. There's a photo on the Internet from this evening, from that very evening of the AK-47 being raised and pointed at the driver's direction. And so I think that easily meets the standard of a credible threat to your life. And that's ultimately why I think the governor will pardon Sergeant Espinosa.
MIKE WARREN: What do you think of this pardon possibility?
ED ESPINOZA: Well, I think that if somebody like Governor Abbott and the Republican Party are going to position themselves as the party of law and order, that they need to consider antics like this from the governor, who lets be honest, this is not based on anything other than Tucker Carlson telling the governor what to do. This has to do with presidential ambitions and wanting to gin up his base. Now, there might be pictures on the Internet, but who knows if they're legit or not. But if they are, I assume the jury has seen those and the judicial process, the judge and the jury have seen other evidence, including social media posts by the assailant, saying that he wanted to go and kill people. His friends said he sent them messages saying he could easily set it up and claim self-defense. That was what was entered into evidence, that is, but has been what was widely reported on. And I guess I could say I'm surprised that Governor Abbott would do this, but I'm not really surprised that he would make this political.
MIKE WARREN: Matt Mackowiak, going along with that, you know, Ed, and a lot of people say this would really be a subversion of the legal system to do this. Pardon? What do you say to that?
MATT MACKOWIAK: Well, I think the first question is, was it appropriate for the Travis County D.A. to bring this case when the lead detective concluded that no, no laws were violated and no charges were necessary and that APD is only investigation concluded the same thing. Remember that district attorneys have wide latitude to use their discretion as to which on which cases to bring forward and which ones not to bring forward. In fact, when the new D.A. was elected, he announced he was not going to prosecute any of the protesters from the George Floyd protests that that committed property damage and threatened other people, including police officers. So it's a little rich to hear Ed talk about the left caring about law and order when you know, when the D.A. on their behalf specifically says he's not going to charge people who are guilty of those actions back in 2020.
MIKE WARREN: Ed, go ahead.
ED ESPINOZA: The assailant said he was going to go kill people. He told his friends he put it on social media, and then he did it and the jury convicted him. Matt, you can dance around those issues all you want, but I don't envy the position you're in having to defend the governor right now. The bottom line is he killed somebody, and he got convicted for doing it. And now the person who died was open carrying a gun in Texas. And what the governor is setting up to do is a precedent that if you see someone open carry, you can just murder them and claim self-defense. Something that I think the Second Amendment crowd maybe hasn't considered or if they have, may not be real happy with this. This is a very messy situation. This is a very messy situation. And I really upset to see the governor do this. And I can't imagine that there are very many Republicans happy with this either.
MATT MACKOWIAK: The protesters encircled his car. He raised a weapon towards them. He defended himself.
ED ESPINOZA: Drove his car into a crowd of protesters. We also included in evidence.
MIKE WARREN: We are out of time, and this will continue on. Ed, Matt, thank you both very much.