AUSTIN, Texas (NEWSnet/AP) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbot issued a full pardon Thursday to a former U.S. Army sergeant who was convicted of murder for the 2020 death of a Black Lives Matter protester. 

Abbott announced the pardon just minutes after the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles disclosed it had unanimously recommended that Perry be pardoned and have his firearms rights restored.

Perry has been held in state prison on a 25-year sentence since his conviction in 2023 after prosecutors used his social media history and text messages to portray him as a racist who may commit violence again.

A jury in Austin had convicted Perry of murder in the death of 28-year-old Garrett Foster, an Air Force veteran who had been legally carrying an AK-47 while marching in a Black Lives Matter protest.

Perry was working as a ride-share driver in July 2020, when he turned his car onto a street crowded with demonstrators and shot Foster before driving off.

Prosecutors argued at trial that Perry could have driven away without opening fire and witnesses testified that they never saw Foster raise his gun.

The sergeant’s defense attorneys argued Foster did raise the rifle and that Perry had no choice but to shoot.

Perry did not take the witness stand and jurors deliberated for two days before finding him guilty.

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