Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas said on Saturday that he would pardon a man who was convicted on Friday of murdering a protester in Austin, as long as a state board brought such a request to his desk.
The announcement from the governor directly places the fate of Daniel S. Perry, who was found guilty of killing Garrett Foster, 28, at a Black Lives Matter demonstration in 2020, in the hands of the Board of Pardons and Paroles.
The board’s members, who are appointed by the governor, determine who should be granted a pardon. Mr. Perry faces a sentence of life in prison.
“Texas has one of the strongest ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws of self-defense that cannot be nullified by a jury or a progressive District Attorney,” Mr. Abbott wrote on Twitter.
“I look forward to approving the board’s pardon recommendation as soon as it hits my desk,” he added.
A pardon for Mr. Perry would free him from a prison sentence, allow him to vote and restore his right to serve on a jury.
The governor’s statement came a day after Matt Rinaldi, the chairman of the Republican Party in Texas, expressed his disdain for the verdict, saying that “this case should have never been prosecuted” and that a pardon from the governor was “in order.”
Mr. Abbott’s office and the Board of Pardons and Paroles did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Saturday night.
The potential pardon of Mr. Perry threatens to undermine the Travis County District Attorney’s office, which prosecuted the case.
This week, Republican lawmakers introduced a bill in the State Senate that would curtail the power of elected prosecutors, particularly those in left-leaning counties who decline to pursue certain cases, like some related to abortion bans.
The Travis County District Attorney’s office did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on Saturday.
On July 25, 2020, Mr. Perry, an active-duty U.S. Army sergeant, was working as a driver for the ride-hailing company Uber when he drove toward a crowd of marchers in Austin and came to a stop, the police said at the time.
Mr. Foster, a former aircraft mechanic for the U.S. Air Force who wore a bandanna on his face and carried an AK-47-style rifle on a strap in front of him, approached the vehicle, the authorities said.
Lawyers for Mr. Perry said during the trial that Mr. Foster then threatened Mr. Perry by pointing his weapon at their client.
They argued that, when Mr. Perry shot Mr. Foster, he was acting in self-defense. But prosecutors said that Mr. Perry had instigated the episode.
During the trial, prosecutors pointed to Mr. Perry’s social media posts as evidence, such as when he wrote that he might “kill a few people on my way to work; they are rioting outside my apartment complex,” The Austin American-Statesman reported.
The jury unanimously voted to convict Mr. Perry. The law office of Doug O’Connell, which represented Mr. Perry, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
After the verdict was read, Mr. Perry slumped his shoulders, hid his head and cried, according to the television station KXAN, which posted video clips of the trial.
Ryan Foster, the brother of Garrett Foster, told The American-Statesman that Mr. Perry should not be pardoned.
One supporter of Mr. Perry has been Kyle Rittenhouse, who in November 2021 was acquitted on all charges in his trial over the shootings of three white men — two of whom died — after demonstrations in Kenosha, Wis., in 2020 over the shooting of a Black man by a white police officer.
Mr. Rittenhouse, whose case fueled a debate over gun rights, wrote on Twitter on Saturday that he prayed that the Board of Pardons and Paroles would recommend to the governor that Mr. Perry be pardoned.
Mr. Abbott tends to typically grant pardons around Christmas each year. On Dec. 22 last year, he granted two pardons, and in December 2021, he granted eight.
In 2018, less than an hour before Thomas Whitaker was scheduled to be executed, Mr. Abbott spared the man’s life.
The governor accepted the unanimous recommendation of the Board of Pardons to change the death sentence of Mr. Whitaker, who in 2003 orchestrated the killing of his mother and brother near Houston, to life in prison without parole.