BRUNSWICK (Ga.) — Three men were convicted Wednesday of murder in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery. The victim was a Black man running through a Georgia subdivision empty-handed when three white strangers chased and trapped him on a quiet street before launching a shotgun at him.
At first, the February 2020 murder drew little attention. However, video of the shooting was quickly posted online and Arbery’s murder became a further example of the nation’s recognition of racial injustices in Black people’s daily lives.
All now face a mandatory sentence to life imprisonment. The judge will decide if they are sentenced with or without parole.
After jumping up and shouting, Arbery’s father was forced to leave the courtroom as the first of 23 guilty verdicts was read. Arbery’s mother lowered her head as she pumped her fists quietly during the reading of the final criminal count.
Marcus Arbery Sr. stated that his son “didn’t do anything but run and dream.” Many Black supporters embraced and wept outside the courthouse.
The jury deliberated for approximately 10 hours before convictingGreg McMichael’s son Travis McMichael as well as William “Roddie Bryan, his neighbor.
After seeing Arbery running out of Brunswick, Georgia, the McMichaels grabbed guns from him and took off in a pickup truck. Bryan joined the chase in his pickup truck and captured cellphone video of Travis McMichael shooting Arbery.
Police were told by the father and son that they believed Arbery was a fleeing thief. The prosecution claimed that the men provoked the fatal confrontation, and that there was no evidence Arbery had committed any crime in the area.
“We commend this jury’s courage and bravery to say that the Feb. 23rd 2020 killing and hunting of Ahmaud Arkey was not only morally and legally wrong and we are grateful for that,” stated Latonia Hines (Cob County executive assistant district attorney).
Linda Dunikoski, the prosecutor, said: “The jury system in this country works. They will do the right things if you tell them the truth and they can see it.”
Travis McMichael (35), stood for the verdict with his lawyer’s arm wrapped around his shoulder. He lowered his head and chest at one point. As he stood to leave the courtroom gallery, he said “love you” as the verdicts were read.
Greg McMichael (65) bowed his head as the judge read his first guilty sentence. Bryan, 52, bit the lip.
Outside the courthouse, Ben Crump (an attorney for Arbery) repeatedly stated that the “spirit of Ahmaud defeated” the lynch mob.
Wanda Cooper-Jones was Arbery’s mom. She thanked everyone for their verdict. stated that she didn’t think she would live to see it.
“It was a long fight. It has been a difficult fight. She said that God is good and her son will now rest in peace.
The attorneys for Travis McMichaels stated that both his father and he feel they did the right things and that the video would prove to be a help in their case. They also stated that the McMichaels regretted Arbery’s death.
Attorney Jason Sheffield stated, “I can honestly tell you that these men are sorry for what occurred to Ahmaud arbery.” They are sorry that he is dead. They’re sorry for the tragedy caused by the decisions they made to try to stop him.
They hoped to appeal.
Kevin Gough, Bryan’s attorney, stated that his team was disappointed with the verdict but respected it. He intended to file new legal motions following Thanksgiving.
Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley didn’t immediately set a sentencing time, saying that he wanted both sides to have the opportunity to prepare.
Joe Biden stated that Arbery’s death was a “devastating reminder,” of the nation’s need to continue fighting for racial justice.
“While guilty verdicts are a reflection of our justice system’s ability to do its job, it is not sufficient. Biden stated that instead of focusing on the past of violence and fear because of skin color, it was important to recommit to building a future where there is unity and shared strength.
Although prosecutors didn’t argue that racism was the motive for the murder, federal authorities have filed hate crime charges against them. They claim that they chased Arbery and killed him because he is Black. This case will be tried in February.
The case was received by the jury, which was disproportionately white, around noon Tuesday.
The jury returned to court on Wednesday morning and sent a request to the judge for three viewings of the video. They requested the original and the one the investigators had enhanced to reduce shadows.
The jury returned to court to view the videos and hear again the 911 call that one defendant made from the truck bed about 30 seconds prior to the shooting.
Greg McMichael told an operator on the 911 call that the jury examined: “I’m here in Satilla Shores.” A Black male is running down the street.
Then he starts to shout, possibly as Arbery runs toward McMichael’s idling truck. Bryan’s truck is coming up behind him. Damn it, stop! Travis!” You can hear the gunshots a few seconds later.
Full Coverage Ahmaud Arbery
Two months later, the graphic video was released and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation quickly took control of the case. The three men were arrested.
Defense lawyers claim that the McMichaels attempted to arrest a legal citizen when they went after Arbery. They wanted to detain Arbery and question him after he fled from a nearby house under construction.
Travis McMichael said that he shot Arbery out of self-defense. McMichael said that Arbery turned and attacked him with his fists, while running past McMichael’s truck with his shotgun.
Arbery, who had just finished his technical college degree and was studying to be an electrician like his uncles, died shortly after his death.
Shaun Seals (32-year-old Brunswick resident) ran to the courthouse in an attempt to cheer on the verdict.
Seals said, “We just came out for history,” pushing his 10-month old daughter in a stroller.
Black Seals called the convictions a victory for not only his community, but also for the nation.
He said, “It’s unlikely to heal all the wounds” caused by a long history in inequality. “But it’s still a start, and shows that people are trying.”