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Three defendants found guilty of murdering black jogger Ahmaud Arbery
25 November 2021, 13:35
Mr Arbery’s killing became part of a larger national reckoning on racial injustice after the graphic video leaked online two months later.
Jurors in Georgia have convicted the three white men charged over the death of Ahmaud Arbery, the black man who was chased and shot while running through their neighbourhood.
The convictions for Greg McMichael, son Travis McMichael and neighbour William “Roddie” Bryan came after jurors deliberated for about 10 hours.
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.
Travis McMichael stood for the verdict, his lawyer’s arm around his shoulder. At one point, McMichael lowered his head to his chest. After the verdicts were read, as he stood to leave, he mouthed “love you” to his mother, who was in the courtroom.
Moments after the verdicts were announced, Mr 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.”
Ben Crump, attorney for Mr Arbery’s father, spoke outside the courthouse, saying repeatedly, “The spirit of Ahmaud defeated the lynch mob.”
Mr Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, thanked the crowd gathered outside the courthouse and said she did not think she would see this day.
“It’s been a long fight. It’s been a hard fight. But God is good,” she said. Of her son, she said: “He will now rest in peace.”
The McMichaels grabbed guns and jumped in a pick-up truck to pursue the 25-year-old after seeing him running outside the Georgia port city of Brunswick in February 2020.
Bryan joined the pursuit in his own pick-up and recorded phone video of Travis McMichael fatally shooting Mr Arbery.
The graphic video leaked online two months later. Though prosecutors did not argue that racism motivated the killing, federal authorities have charged them with hate crimes, alleging that they chased and killed Mr Arbery because he was black. That case is scheduled to go to trial in February.
The McMichaels told police they suspected Mr Arbery was a fleeing burglar when they armed themselves and jumped in a pick-up truck to chase him.
Bryan joined the pursuit when they passed his house and recorded video of Travis McMichael blasting Arbery at close range with a shotgun as Mr Arbery threw punches and grabbed for the weapon.
On the 911 call the jury reviewed, Greg McMichael tells an operator: “I’m out here in Satilla Shores. There’s a black male running down the street.”
He then starts shouting, apparently as Mr Arbery is running toward the McMichael’s idling truck with Bryan’s truck coming up behind him: “Stop right there. Damn it, stop. Travis.”
Gunshots can be heard a few second later.
Defence attorneys contend the McMichaels were attempting a legal citizen’s arrest when they set off after Mr Arbery, seeking to detain and question him as a suspected burglar after he was seen running from a nearby home under construction.
Travis McMichael testified that he shot Arbery in self-defence, saying the running man turned and attacked with his fists while running past the idling truck where Travis McMichael stood with his shotgun.