Arbery case goes to jury


The jury began deliberations Tuesday in the trial over the slaying of Ahmaud Arbery and are tasked with determining the fate of three men facing murder and other felony charges in connection to the fatal shooting of the 25-year-old Black man last year. 

The 12 jurors exited the courtroom after receiving their instructions following 10 days of testimony from a variety of witnesses, including police officers, neighbors, experts from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and one of the defendants himself.

“With that, ladies and gentleman, I ask that you retire to the jury room,” Judge Timothy R. Walmsley said.

The three men — Travis McMichael, his father Greg McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan — were all charged individually and as “parties concerned in the commission of a crime” with one count of malice murder, four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, one count of false imprisonment and one criminal attempt to commit a felony.

Conviction in the case could result in life in prison. All three defendants have pleaded not guilty

The charges are connected to the fatal shooting of Arbery, by Travis McMichael, on Feb. 23, 2020, in a south Georgia neighborhood. The incident was captured on camera, making national headlines once it was leaked in May 2020.

The McMichaels, both of whom were armed, started chasing Arbery from a pickup truck after he departed a nearby house that was under construction, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The two have said they were following Arbery based on Georgia’s now-ended citizen’s arrest law.

Bryan, a neighbor in the area, soon joined the chase in his own truck. He is the person who took the video that documented the final seconds before Arbery’s death.

As Arbery ran down the street, the two trucks closed in on him, prompting him to charge at Travis McMichael. McMichael shot Arbery three times as the 25-year-old tried to grab his shotgun, according to the Journal-Constitution.

The defense lawyers for the McMichaels have argued that their clients had the intention of acting on the state’s citizen’s arrest law, which allowed them to detain Arbery because they had suspicion that he was fleeing the location where he committed a crime. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) repealed the law in May.

Their attorneys say the McMichaels were concerned about a spike in crime in the area and in turn believed that Arbery had just committed a crime, according to The New York Times.

An attorney who represents Travis McMichael has also argued that his client was acting in self-defense when he drew his gun because he feared for his life.

Bryan’s lawyer has tried to isolate himself from the case, arguing that his client did not know a crime was occurring when he joined the chase and started recording, according to the Times. The attorney, Kevin Gough, has also said Bryan did not do any action that harmed Arbery.

Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski, however, has sought to lay out the argument that the three defendants did not have grounds for following Arbery because there was no evidence that he committed a crime.

Dunikoski also said the McMichaels and Bryan had preconceived notions regarding Arbery, telling the jury that they decided to attack him “because he was a Black man running down their street.”

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