Three men guilty of murder in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery

Race in America

BRUNSWICK, Ga. (NewsNation Now) — Three white men were found guilty of murder in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery.

Greg McMichael, 65, who pursued Arbery was convicted of eight of nine counts. His son Travis McMichael, 35, was convicted on all counts.

William “Roddie” Bryan, 52, the neighbor who recorded the cellphone video that showed the killing, was convicted of six of nine counts, including murder.

The 12-person jury came back with its verdict after two days, about 10 hours of deliberation.

The men face minimum sentences of life in prison. It is up to the judge to decide whether that comes with or without the possibility of parole.

Moments after the verdicts were announced, Arbery’s father, Marcus Arbery Sr., was seen crying and hugging supporters outside the courtroom.

“He didn’t do nothing,” the father said, “but run and dream.”

The Wednesday decision comes after more than two weeks of testimony and closing arguments.

The shooting took place on Feb. 23, 2020, in the Satilla Shores neighborhood just outside Brunswick. The McMichaels told police they suspected Arbery was a fleeing burglar when they armed themselves and jumped in a pickup truck to chase him.

Bryan joined the pursuit when they passed his house and recorded cellphone video of Travis McMichael shooting Arbery three times at close range with a shotgun as Arbery threw punches and grabbed for the weapon.

Arbery’s killing became part of a larger national reckoning on racial injustice after Bryan’s video of his death leaked online two months later. After the video release, the men were charged with murder, aggravated assault and false imprisonment among other crimes.

Prosecutors argued that the defendants provoked the fatal confrontation and defense attorneys insisted their clients acted in self-defense.

Travis McMichael testified that he and his father thought Arbery might have been behind recent thefts in the neighborhood.

“You can’t claim self-defense if you are the unjustified aggressor,” Linda Dunikoski told jurors in her final statement Tuesday. “Who started this? It wasn’t Ahmaud Arbery.”

This combo of booking photos provided by the Glynn County, Ga., Detention Center, shows from left, Travis McMichael, his father Gregory McMichael, and William “Roddie” Bryan Jr. (Glynn County Detention Center via AP, File)

She noted that Bryan told police he used his truck to run Arbery into a ditch and cut off his route, while Greg McMichael told officers they had him “trapped like a rat.” The actions of both men, she said, directly contributed to Arbery’s death.

“It doesn’t matter who actually pulled the trigger,” Dunikoski said. “Under the law, they’re all guilty.”

She also said there was no evidence Arbery had committed crimes in the defendants’ neighborhood. She said he was never seen stealing anything the five times he was recorded by security cameras in an unfinished home under construction from which he was seen running.

WAYNESBORO, GA – FEBRUARY 23: A painting of Ahmaud Arbery is displayed during a vigil at New Springfield Baptist Church on February 23, 2021 in Waynesboro, Georgia. Arbery, a Black man, was shot and killed while jogging near Brunswick, Georgia a year ago today after being chased by two white men. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

The prosecutor told jurors someone can only make a citizen’s arrest in “emergency situations” where a crime is happening “right then and there.”

Defense attorneys objected to Dunikoski’s explanation of the citizen’s arrest because they contend the McMichaels had reason to suspect Arbery had stolen items from the home. They said the owner discovered the items missing before he installed security cameras.

They also put the blame on Arbery for his own death.

“He chose to fight,” said Laura Hogue, an attorney for Greg McMichael. She said Arbery decided “without any sense of reason to run at a man wielding a shotgun, leaving him with no other alternative but to be placed in a position to kill him.”

Arbery was enrolled at a technical college and was preparing at the time to study to become an electrician like his uncles at the time of his death.

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The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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