Crime White Vigilante Trio Guilty of Murdering Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia
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.
The white men accused of needlesslyin cold blood in Georgia last February in what under the law enforcement were found guilty of murder on Wednesday.
Travis McMichael was found guilty of the most serious offense, malice murder, in the Feb. 23, 2020 homicide death of Arbery. Greg McMichael, his father, was found not guilty of malice murder but convicted of all other eight charges against him, including felony murder. William Roddie Bryan, a family neighbor, was found not guilty of malice murder, one count of felony murder, and one count of aggravated assault. He was, however, found guilty of three counts of felony murder, aggravated assault, and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.
'Life or death:' Travis McMichael tells Georgia jury he felt threatened by Ahmaud Arbery
'Life or death:' Travis McMichael tells Georgia jury he felt threatened by Ahmaud Arbery(Reuters) -Travis McMichael testified at his murder trial on Wednesday that he shot Ahmaud Arbery because he thought the Black man was attacking him after McMichael and his two co-defendants chased Arbery through a mostly white Georgia neighborhood.
The 25-year-old Black man’s slaying, captured in a dramatic video by one of the alleged perpetrators, drew national outrage weeks before the police killing of George Floyd set off a wave of protest against racist cops across the country.
Throughout the almost three-week trial, prosecutors argued that Arbery was on a jog through Satilla Shores, a neighborhood in Brunswick, Georgia, when the trio chased him down the street after wrongly suspecting him of burglary. Travis McMichael was caught on video footage—filmed by the third defendant, Bryan—firing the fatal shots.
“They made the decision to attack Ahmaud Arbery in their driveways because he was a Black man running down the street,” Senior Assistant District Attorney Linda Dunikoski said during closing arguments.“They shot and killed him. Not because he was a threat to them but because he wouldn’t stop and talk to them.”
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.
The defense for the three men argued that they were trying to perform a citizen’s arrest on Arbery in connection with suspected break-ins in the area. Travis McMichael, who was the only one of the three defendants to testify on his own behalf and admitted Arbery never explicitly threatened him, nonetheless insisted to the jury that he fired his weapon because he believed it was “a life and death situation.”
“It is absolutely, horrifically tragic that this has happened,” Jason Sheffield, the attorney for Travis McMichael, said during closing arguments. “This is where the law is intertwined with heartache and tragedy. You are allowed to defend yourself.”
Now each man faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole—plus separate, federal hate-crime charges.
The verdict, which was reached in about nine hours, marked a relatively rapid end to a criminal case that almost never started: While the fatal shooting occurred in Feb. 2020, it took 73 days, a damning video going viral, and allegations of prosecutorial misconduct before arrests were made.
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.
The conviction also comes just days aftera third during unrest in Wisconsin last year after the police shooting of Jacob Blake, was acquitted of all charges after himself arguing self-defense.
“Especially after the Rittenhouse verdict, the stakes have never been higher for a conviction in this case,” former federal prosecutor Neama Rahman told The Daily Beast before the jury’s decision came down.
During closing arguments, Dunikoski methodically detailed to jurors the circumstances that led to Arbery’s death. The details of the day, prosecutors argued, show that the trio had no right to detain Arbery under a citizen’s arrest because they had no proof he was even committing a crime in the first place.
“If you’re going to take the law into your own hands, you better know what the law is,” the prosecutor added.
In what was perhaps the most critical point in the trial, Travis McMichael took the stand to tell his “side” of the circumstances that resulted in Arbery’s death. Over his two days on the stand, he testified about how he felt qualified to help with the crime problem in this neighborhood because of his previous law enforcement training in the Coast Guard.
Closing arguments to begin Monday in trial over Ahmaud Arbery's killing: What to know
Closing arguments were set for Monday in the murder trial of three white men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery early last year.A panel of 12 jurors and three alternates, will hear from the prosecution and lawyers for each of the three defendants. After closings, the jurors are set to begin deliberations on a verdict.
Part of the training, he said, included learning de-escalation strategies that he claimed included pointing a gun at someone.
Video: Nearly all-white jury selected for trial of men charged in killing of Ahmaud Arbery (NBC News)
Two weeks before Arbery’s February 2020 fatal shooting, Travis McMichael said, he called authorities after seeing someone “lurking” outside a home under construction, whom he believed was “breaking in.”
On Feb. 23, McMichael testified, he was in the living room trying to get his son down for a nap when his “frantic” father, Gregory, walked in and said, “the guy that’s been breaking in down the road just ran by the house.” In addition to being an ex-cop, the elder McMichael had also worked as an investigator for the local DA’s office, a history that would loom large over the case immediately after Arbery’s killing.
“I assumed it was the same guy from Feb. 11. I think he told me to grab my gun... so I grabbed the shotgun,” Travis McMichael said, noting that the duo did not know whether Arbery was armed or not.
According to the defense, father and son quickly got into a white pickup truck to chase after Arbery and ask him what was going on. Travis McMichael told jurors that he was surprised that Arbery was “angry” but admitted that he never yelled, threatened, or brandished a weapon at the McMichaels.
Attorneys make closing arguments in Ahmaud Arbery murder trial
Jury hears closing arguments in Ahmaud Arbery murder trial.Arbery was running in the predominantly white Satilla Shores neighborhood of Brunswick on Feb. 23, 2020, when he was pursued by Gregory McMichael, 65, a former police officer, and his son, Travis, 35. Their neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan Jr., 52, helped them to corner Arbery, following him in a pickup as he ran down the road.
“He did not threaten me verbally, no,” the younger McMichael said. “He was just running.”
Around the same time, prosecutors said, William “Roddie'' Byran, another Satilla Shores resident, saw the McMichaels following Arbery and jumped into his own pick-up truck to help out—and record the encounter on his cellphone. Travis McMichael testified that he did not know Bryan and, in fact, assumed he was Arbery’s getaway vehicle.
One Glynn County police officer testified that Gregory McMichael admitted he yelled, “Stop, or I’ll blow your fucking head off” to Arbery during the chaotic chase. Travis McMichael testified he got out of the car to confront Arbery, who he claimed grabbed for his gun during a struggle.
“He had my gun. It was obvious that he was attacking me and if he’d have gotten the shotgun from me, it’d be a life and death situation,” McMichael said Wednesday.
Dr. Edmund R. Donoghue, a forensic pathologist at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, testified last week that Arbery suffered multiple shots at very close range—including wounds to the chest, wrist, and armpit. Donoghue determined that the wounds—which were captured on Bryan’s now-infamous footage of the incident—were fatal and there was nothing emergency responders could have done to save Arbery’s life.
Glynn County Police Department Officer Jeff Brandenberry, who interviewed Gregory McMichael on the scene of Arbery’s killing, said the former investigatorThe shocking testimony may have poked holes in the defense’s theory that the father and son duo were simply exercising a citizen’s arrest on Arbery or justified in the shooting per the state’s controversial “State Your Ground” law.
Jury to deliberate verdict in Ahmaud Arbery's death. Here are key moments from the trial.
The jury will now decide if Travis and Greg McMichael and William "Roddie" Bryan are guilty of murder and other crimes in the death of Ahmaud Arbery.How jurors decide on a verdict could ultimately hinge on how they view Travis McMichael, who fatally shot Arbery and was the only defendant to testify.
“To be perfectly honest with you, if I could have gotten a shot at the guy, I’d have shot him myself,” Gregory McMichael said, according to a transcript of Brandenberry’s body-camera footage from the day that he read out in court.
Ronald Carlson, a professor in the University of Georgia School of Law, said there were several major testimonial points in the trial that aided a prosecutorial win—one being the two Glynn County police officers who showed the willingness of the McMichaels to fire their firearms at Arbery.
“Hearing that Gregroy McMichael was also willing to shoot at Arbery if need be kind of blows the defense’s argument that a legal weapon was only used as a last resort,” Carlson told The Daily Beast.
After the incident, Travis McMichael told jurors that while he was “nervous” while he was being interviewed by police, he never thought he would go to jail for killing Arbery because he was simply “going through an investigation.”
“I just killed a man. I had blood on me still. It was the most traumatic event of my life. I was scared to death,” McMichael. “This was the most traumatic event I’ve been through in my life.”
If the killing was traumatic for the white men behind it, that didn’t stop them from moving quickly to shore up their defense: One of Gregory McMichael’s first calls after the shooting, prosecutors say, was to, where he left a voicemail seeking advice.
While it is not immediately clear whether Johnson called him back, the former DA recused herself from the investigation on Feb. 27, when she revealed that Gregory had been a longtime investigator for her office. At the time, Johnson referred the case to Waycross District Attorney George E. Barnhill.
In early April 2020, Barnhill recused himself as well, noting in a letter that his son worked in Johnson’s office, and had even worked with Gregory McMichael on a prosecution involving Arbery.
But before completely relinquishing control of the case, Barnhill wrote a letter to the Glynn County Police Department arguing that there was “insufficient probable cause to issue arrest warrants” for Bryan and the McMichaels.
The letter detailed the DA’s reasoning against prosecution, stating that it appeared the trio’s intent “was to stop and hold” a burglary suspect until law enforcement arrived, and their citizen’s arrest actions were “perfectly legal” under Georgia law. Barnhill added that Travis McMichael and his father were within their rights to carry their firearms that day under Georgia’s open-carry law—and that the shuffle between the younger McMichael and Arbery gave him grounds “to use deadly force to protect himself” under state law.
Johnson, who lost her re-election bid in 2020, hasas a public officer and obstructing a police officer for how she handled the episode.
All 3 Defendants Found Guilty of Murdering Ahmaud Arbery, Black Jogger Chased Down and Shot in Georgia .
Ahmaud Arbery, 25, was shot and killed on Feb. 23, 2020, after being chased on a suburban Brunswick street by three men who said they believed he was a burglarAll three men charged have been found guilty for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black jogger they believed to be a burglar running on a suburban Georgia street, who they pursued and cornered with their pickups before a physical confrontation in which one of the men fatally shot him.