State Watch

All 3 men in Arbery killing found guilty of murder

A Georgia jury on Wednesday found three white men charged in the death of Ahmaud Arbery guilty of multiple counts of murder.

The jury found Travis McMichael, 35, who fatally shot Arbery on Feb. 23, 2020, in a Brunswick, Ga., neighborhood, guilty of all nine counts brought against him, including malice murder.

His father, Gregory McMichael, 65, who was with him at the time of the shooting, was found guilty of four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, one count of false imprisonment and one count of criminal attempt to commit a felony. 

William “Roddie” Bryan, 52, who recorded the incident, was found guilty of three counts of felony murder, one count of aggravated assault, one count of false imprisonment and one count of criminal attempt to commit a felony

All three men faced nine charges: 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 in connection to Arbery’s slaying.

The largely white jury, which began deliberations on Tuesday after 10 days of testimony, discussed the case for roughly 10 hours before reaching a verdict. Robert Ruvin, a defense attorney for Travis McMichael, told reporters after the jury handed down its verdict that he “absolutely” plans to appeal in the case.

Kevin Gough, an attorney representing Bryan, said he will file a motion for a new trial on behalf of his client next week.

All three men are now facing a potential sentence of life in prison. The judge, who has not yet set a date for a sentencing hearing, will decide if their sentences have the possibility of parole, according to The Associated Press.

They are also expected to go on trial in February for a slew of other federal charges, including hate crimes and attempted kidnapping, according to The New York Times

Travis McMichael shot Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, after chasing him with his father in a pickup truck.

Defense lawyers representing the McMichaels said they were following Arbery, who had been seen in a house that was under construction, in accordance with Georgia’s now-repealed citizen’s arrest law because they believed he was fleeing a crime scene. An attorney for Travis McMichael also argued that his client acted out of self defense when he opened fire because he feared for his life.

As two trucks closed in on him, Arbery charged at Travis McMichael. McMichael shot Arbery three times as the 25-year-old tried to reach for his shotgun.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed a bill repealing the citizen’s arrest law in May.

Bryan, who had joined the chase from his own truck, captured the incident on camera. The case received national attention after the video was leaked in May 2020.

Bryan’s lawyer sought to distance his client from the McMichaels, contending that he did not know a crime was taking place when he joined the chase for Arbery and started recording.

The prosecution argued the three defendants’ actions were not justified because they did not have evidence that Arbery committed a crime.

Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski said during the trial the McMichaels and Bryan attacked Arbery “because he was a Black man running down their street.”

Minutes after the verdicts were announced, Dunikoski said the jurors delivered justice for Arbery.

“The verdict today was a verdict based on the facts, based on the evidence, and that was our goal, was to bring that to that jury so that they could do the right thing,” Dunikoski said.

“Because the jury system works in this country, and when you present the truth to people and they could see it, they will do the right thing. And that’s what this jury did today in getting justice for Ahmaud Arbery,” she added.

Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, said shortly after the verdict was read that she “never thought this day would come” last year, adding the process leading up to the jury’s decision has been a long and hard fight.

“But God is good,” she said, before thanking individuals who marched and prayed in support of her son.

She added that her son “will now rest in peace.”

Marcus Arbery Sr., Ahmaud’s father, said “we conquered that lynch mob.”

Jason Sheffield, a defense attorney who is also representing Travis McMichael, said it was a “very difficult day” for both McMichaels, who “honestly believed that what they were doing was the right thing to do.”

“However, a Glynn County jury has spoken, they have found them guilty, and they will be sentenced, and that is a very disappointing and sad verdict for myself and for Bob and for our team,” he said outside the courthouse.

“But we also recognize that this is a day of celebration for the Arbery family. We cannot tear our eyes away from the way that they feel about this, and we understand that they feel they have gotten justice today. We respect that, we honor that because we honor this jury trial system,” he added.

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump in a statement following the verdict said the jury’s decision “certainly indicates progress, but we are nowhere close to the finish line.”

“After nearly two years of pain, suffering, and wondering if Ahmaud’s killers would be held to account, the Arbery family finally has some justice,” Crump said.

“Nothing will bring back Ahmaud, but his family will have some peace knowing the men who killed him will remain behind bars and can never inflict their brand of evil on another innocent soul,” he added.

President Biden sounded a similar note, saying in a statement that while the verdicts “reflect our justice system doing its job,” they are “not enough.”

“Instead, we must recommit ourselves to building a future of unity and shared strength, where no one fears violence because of the color of their skin. My administration will continue to do the hard work to ensure that equal justice under law is not just a phrase emblazoned in stone above the Supreme Court, but a reality for all Americans,” Biden added.

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus hailed the jury’s decision shortly after the verdict was read on Wednesday.

Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), the chairwoman of the group, said “justice has been served.”

“This story — although devastating —  is not new; we’ve seen this play out repeatedly. Vigilantes acting with racial animus take the lives of Black men and boys, and claim self-defense when confronted with the consequences of their actions. Travis McMichael; his father, Gregory McMichael; and William Bryan are criminals who deserve to be punished for their role(s) in murdering 25-year-old, Mr. Ahmaud Arbery,” Beatty said in a statement.

“Simply put, none of these criminals had any concrete knowledge Mr. Arbery committed any crime on the day they murdered him,” she said, while blasting “vitriol and racist tropes invoked by the defense.”

Updated at 4:31 p.m.

Tags Ahmaud Arbery Ahmaud Arbery ahmaud arbery killing Brian Kemp Gregory McMichael Joe Biden Joyce Beatty Travis McMichael
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