Juror slams Greg Abbott as he seeks to pardon man who murdered BLM protester

Jere Dowell sat as an alternate juror during the trial of US Army Sergeant Daniel Perry, who was convicted of murdering a 28-year-old demonstrator during the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests in Austin.

After conservative outcry over the murder conviction, Texas Governor Greg Abbott promised he was working to pardon Perry's crime — a move Ms Dowell says is indicative of "egregious overreach" by the governor's office.

Ms Dowell said she was present for the deliberations in Perry's murder trial and said the prosecutors made a convincing argument for the man's guilt.

On 8 April, less than 24 hours after the verdict was announced, Mr Abbott posted to Twitter that he was "working as swiftly as Texas law allows regarding the pardon of Sgt. Perry."

Under Texas law, the Governor cannot pardon without a recommendation first coming from the state's Board of Pardons and Paroles.

Perry was sentenced to 25 years in prison on 10 May for the killing Garrett Foster, 28, who was legally carrying an AK-47 while marching with demonstrators in Austin.

Clinton Broden, Perry’s attorney, issued a statement after the sentencing praising Mr Abbott’s intention to seek a pardon, describing it as a check on the system.

“In short, in the event Sgt. Perry might ultimately receive a pardon, it would simply reflect the strong self-defense laws that exist in Texas and the political efforts of a rogue district attorney to curtail the rights of Texas citizens in an effort to appease the district attorney’s own political supporters,” he said, according to CNN.

“I just think it’s a travesty,” Ms Dowell told the Associated Press when asked about Mr Abbott's plan to pardon Perry.

Her comments are the first time a juror has spoken publicly about Mr Abbott's intentions.

“I just thought it was an egregious overreach of power,” Ms Dowell said. “It's undermining due process. It's undermining democracy. I was upset, honestly.”

An alternate juror in the murder trial of Daniel Perry said Governor Greg Abbott’s intrusion into the case amounted to ‘egregious overreach’ (Austin American-Statesman)
An alternate juror in the murder trial of Daniel Perry said Governor Greg Abbott’s intrusion into the case amounted to ‘egregious overreach’ (Austin American-Statesman)

Ms Dowell said she worried that Mr Abbott's intrusion into the case could cause other jurors to second-guess their decisions during deliberations. She said the jury reached its conclusions based solely on the evidence presented during the trial.

“If your governor is coming out and saying you made the wrong decision, that may make you think twice about what you said or what you felt,” she said.

Mr Abbott had not spoken publicly about Perry's case before the verdict, and it is unclear how, in under 24 hours, he determined that the man warranted a pardon.

Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza, whose office prosecuted Perry's case, told CNN that it was clear Mr Abbott had not actually watched the trial.

"I don't know what's in the governor's mind," he said.

Perry's attorney, Clint Broden, has filed a motion seeking a new trial.