Crime Wanda Cooper-Jones, Ahmaud Arbery's mother, expresses gratitude Thanksgiving morning: 'We finally got justice'
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.
The mother of Ahmaud Arbery expressed gratitude Thanksgiving morning, calling the moment "bittersweet."
"This is the second Thanksgiving that my family and I will share without Ahmaud," Wanda Cooper-Jones said in an interview on CNN's "New Day" Thursday. "But this is the first Thanksgiving that we can look at that empty chair and say, 'We finally got justice for you, Ahmaud.'"
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.
Cooper-Jones' comments came the morning after three men -- father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael, and their neighbor William "Roddie" Bryan Jr. --, among other charges.
"The word 'guilty' was a word that I wanted to hear 18 months ago," she said. "And we finally got that word of guilty."
The three men were not arrested until May 2020, more than two months after Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was shot dead while out for a jog in their neighborhood near Brunswick, Georgia. The McMichaels later claimed they were trying to conduct a citizen's arrest of Arbery, who was unarmed and on foot, believing he might have committed a crime. Bryan, who filmed the murder, said he took no part in the killing.
What we learned from testimony in the trial over Ahmaud Arbery's killing
Closing arguments are expected to begin Monday morning in the trial of Ahmaud Arbery's killing, after jurors heard from more than 20 witnesses, including the man who shot and killed the 25-year-old jogger. © Stephen B. Morton/Pool/AP Travis McMichael speaks from the witness stand during his trial Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. Travis McMichael, who took the stand last week, his father Gregory McMichael and their neighbor William Bryan Jr.
"It took us 74 days -- 74 days to get an arrest. And I knew it was my job as Mom to really find out what happened to Ahmaud," she said. "I prayed, and God answered my prayers. So I'm just thankful sitting here this morning."
Attorneys for all three men said they intend to appeal. Prosecutors have indicated they will seek sentences of life in prison without the possibility of parole. All three defendants also face federal hate crime charges.
In the meantime, Cooper-Jones said she wanted people to remember her son as a force for change, highlighting the fact his murder sparked meaningful advancements in Georgia law,and an . Such changes, Cooper-Jones said, were proof her son "did not lose his life in vain."
"I'm hoping ... that before individuals, society, grab shotguns and chase someone who is running down the street and kill them, that they will also think that if they take those extreme actions that they will be held accountable," Cooper-Jones said. "So maybe that thought will lead them in a better direction."
Travis McMichael says Ahmaud Arbery never verbally threatened him or pulled weapon .
Travis McMichael returned to the witness stand on Thursday under cross-examination from the prosecutor. Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski attempted to undermine the 35-year-old McMichael's credibility by getting him to concede to inconsistencies between what he told police the day of the shooting and what he told the Brunswick, Georgia, jury during his direct testimony on Wednesday.