Crime EXPLAINER: What the defense in Arbery's killing is arguing
Ahmaud Arbery's mother 'very' discouraged by makeup of nearly all white jury
The opening statements in the murder case likely will begin Friday. The jury was selected on Wednesday to decide the fate of the three white men accused in the shooting death of Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man who prosecutors allege was out for a jog in 2020 when he was attacked.
ATLANTA (AP) — Travis and Greg McMichael said they armed themselves and sped after Ahmaud Arbery because they thought he was a burglar, and they wanted to catch him and hold him until police arrived.
When the 25-year-old Black man turned and fought during the chase, they said, Travis McMichael shot him in self-defense.
Key takeaways from 1st day of Ahmaud Arbery murder trial
The first day in the trial of three Georgia men accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery ended with the jury seeing police body-camera footage of the man lying dead in a road. The graphic images were the last piece of prosecution evidence the Glynn County, Georgia, Superior Court jury was shown before the panel was dismissed for the weekend.
That's what the defense maintains in the trial of three white men accused in the killing of Arbery, who was shot three times in February 2020 near Brunswick, on the Georgia coast. The McMichaels, a father and son, and neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan are charged with murder and other crimes.
The defense strategy depends on Georgia's citizen's arrest and self-defense laws.
Georgia man who called cops on Ahmaud Arbery describes 'shocking scene' he later found
A man who called police to report Ahmaud Arbery inside a house under construction described a 'shocking scene' after Arbery's fatal shooting.Matthew Albenze, who has lived in the Satilla Shores neighborhood of Brunswick for more than 30 years, said that minutes after he called the police nonemergency number, he heard shots and came across a "shocking scene," where Arbery's body was splayed on the road.
WHAT DOES THE DEFENSE SAY HAPPENED?
Greg McMichael, 65, told police he saw Arbery “hauling ass” past his house and believed he had committed burglaries nearby. McMichael ran inside, grabbed a handgun and shouted to his son, who emerged with a shotgun.
The two men jumped in a pickup truck and pursued Arbery through their subdivision. Arbery was on foot.
Seeing the chase in progress, Bryan climbed into his own pickup and recorded video on his cellphone as he joined the pursuit.
Ahmaud Arbery Trial Judge Denies Defense Request to Remove Jesse Jackson From Court
"The court is not going to single out any particular individual or group of individuals as not being allowed into his courtroom," the judge said.Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley declined to have the Reverend Jesse Jackson removed, saying Jackson was not causing any disruption to the court.
Bryan, 52, told an investigator he used his truck several times to block Arbery and edge him off the road. Greg McMichael told police he shouted at Arbery to stop.
At the end, Bryan's video shows Greg McMichael in the bed of his pickup truck with a handgun and Travis McMichael, 35, outside the truck with a shotgun.
Defense attorneys say Arbery lunged toward Travis McMichael and his gun, and that's when Travis McMichael shot him.
WHAT IS A CITIZEN'S ARREST?
Greg McMichael told a police officer they chased Arbery to keep him from leaving the subdivision. He said they wanted “to hold him” until police could “come and you know, check him out.”
Travis McMichael testifies Ahmaud Arbery did not threaten him
The defense rested its case after the jury heard testimony from Travis McMichael, the man who fired the fatal shots.Travis McMichael, the man who fired the fatal shots, spent several hours on the stand Thursday testifying in his own defense and answering questions from prosecutors.
A state law on the books at the time said: “A private person may arrest an offender if the offense is committed in his presence or within his immediate knowledge. If the offense is a felony and the offender is escaping or attempting to escape, a private person may arrest him upon reasonable and probable grounds of suspicion.”
The actual words “citizen's arrest” didn't appear in the statute, and there was no obligation for a person who was trying to detain someone to declare that intention. Republican Gov. Brian Kempmostly repealing the law in May.
Arbery had appeared several times on security video inside a house under construction near the McMichaels' house.
Travis McMichael had seen him outside the house about two weeks earlier and feared Arbery was reaching for a gun that night when he reached toward his pocket, Robert Rubin, an attorney for McMichael said in his.
Brunswick GA: For Black residents of Ahmaud Arbery's hometown, trust in the justice system is on trial right alongside his accused killers
Carrying signs that read "Justice for Ahmaud," the demonstrators marched past majestic live oaks draped with Spanish moss. They chanted Ahmaud Arbery's name as they wound through the streets, past a hardware store, several homes, a convenience store. They rounded the corner by the floral shop, calling for those watching from the sidewalk to join them. © Elijah Nouvelage for CNN Protesters march from the Glynn County Courthouse to the Brunswick African American Cultural Center. © Elijah Nouvelage for CNN A handwritten "I Run With Maud" sign is seen on the facade of an unoccupied building in Brunswick.
Arbery's behavior at the unfinished house would cause a reasonable person to believe a crime had been committed, Rubin said. That's also why the McMichaels felt they needed to arm themselves, he said.
Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski said during her opening statement that Arbery was unarmed and gave the men no reason to suspect him of wrongdoing. They just assumed he had committed a crime, she said.
Melissa Redmon, a former prosecutor and now a law professor at the University of Georgia, said it could be a “hard sell” to convince a jury there was probable cause to initiate a citizen’s arrest.
"That’s based on what it appears they knew at the moment they confronted Mr. Arbery or, rather, the lack of information they had at the moment they confronted Mr. Arbery,” she said.
HOW DID ARBERY'S KILLING LEAD TO THE LAW'S REPEAL?
The citizen's arrest law was approved in 1863 to round up escaped slaves and was later used to justify the lynching of Black people.
There had long been a push to repeal it. Arbery's shooting broadened a national outcry over racial injustice and prompted state lawmakers to act.
The repeal legislation says witnesses and bystanders can't detain people. Restaurant and shop employees can still detain people they believe stole something or who leave without paying. Licensed security guards and private detectives can also detain people.
Deadly force can’t be used to detain someone unless it’s in self-protection, protecting a home, or preventing a forcible felony.
Though the repeal law has taken effect, the defense is able to cite the old law since it was in effect at the time of Arbery's slaying.
Ahmaud Arbery killing trial: Attorneys to deliver closing arguments in case of jogger's shooting
Prosecutors and attorneys representing three men charged with killing Ahmaud Arbery as he jogged through their Glynn County, Georgia, neighborhood last year will deliver closing arguments Monday in the murder trial. © Stephen B. Morton/AP Hundreds of pastors rally during the trial of Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan outside the Glynn County Courthouse, Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. The three are charged with the February 2020 slaying of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. (AP Photo/Stephen B.
WHAT CONSTITUTES SELF-DEFENSE?
It is tragic that Arbery died, Rubin said. “But at that point, Travis McMichael is acting in self-defense. He did not want to encounter Ahmaud Arbery physically. He was only trying to stop him for the police,” Rubin said.
Georgia law allows the use of deadly force if a person reasonably believes another person is about to kill or gravely injure him or someone else. There's no obligation to retreat first, as Georgia recognizes a person's right to “stand your ground.”
But Georgia law does not allow someone to use force if he is the aggressor, unless he withdraws from the fight and effectively communicates that, and the other person continues to use or threaten to use force against him.
When he raised the shotgun, Travis McMichael was hoping to “de-escalate the situation,” but Arbery turned toward McMichael “swinging aggressively” with his fists, Rubin said. McMichael shot him out of fear that Arbery would get the gun and shoot him or his dad, Rubin said.
Prosecutors will likely argue Arbery was allowed to defend himself against a man who had been chasing him and was pointing a gun at him, Redmon said. A Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent said during a June hearing that he believed Arbery acted in self-defense.
Ultimately, the jury will have to consider the moments before the shotgun blasts rang out and decide which man was the aggressor and therefore not legitimately acting in self-defense, Redmon said.
Associated Press writer Russ Bynum in Brunswick, Georgia, contributed to this report.
Ahmaud Arbery killing trial: Prosecutors to deliver final rebuttal before jury deliberates .
Prosecutors will begin court proceedings Tuesday in the trial over the killing of Ahmaud Arbery with a rebuttal to closing arguments made by the defense, which some legal experts felt were racially insensitive and led to Arbery's mother excusing herself from the courtroom. © Stephen B. Morton/AP Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski presents a closing argument to the jury on Monday in Brunswick, Georgia. Lead prosecutor Linda Dunikoski will commence with remarks Tuesday morning and is expected to drive the theme that the case against the defendants is about "assumptions and driveway decisions.