Prosecutors say defendants made 'assumptions' in Arbery killing

Prosecutors claimed during their opening statements Friday that the defendants charged in connection to the death of Ahmaud Arbery made “assumptions” about the 25-year-old Black man.

“Why are we here?” Cobb County Senior Assistant District Attorney Linda Dunikoski said opening statements in Arbery’s trial, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“We are here because of assumptions and driveway decisions. All three of these defendants did everything they did based on assumptions. Not on facts, not on evidence. On assumptions,” she continued.

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The news outlet reported that a homeowner said he recognized Arbery entering a property of his — more than a week before he died — and later told police that Arbery had not taken anything from inside the home. 

Dunikoski claimed police had relayed that information to the defendants —Travis McMichael and his father, Gregory McMichael — and that they should have been aware of those facts, according to the Journal-Constitution.

Arbery was fatally shot while jogging in February of 2020. However, viral footage later revealed in May showed Arbery running away from two vehicles and struggling with a man in possession of a shot gun. An autopsy of Arbery later revealed that he had been shot in the chest twice. 

At the time, the McMichaels claimed that they thought Arbery was breaking in to multiple homes. 

In April of this year, both McMichaels, as well as William "Roddie" Bryan were charged with federal hate crimes in connection to Arbery's death. A federal grand jury charged the three with one count of interference with rights and one count of attempted kidnapping. 

In June, 2021, a grand jury in Georgia charged the McMichaels and Bryan with a total of nine counts of malice murder, four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.

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In his opening statement Friday, a defense lawyer for Travis McMichael claimed that while neither of the two men saw a crime being committed by Arbery, there “was probable cause” to believe a crime had been committed.

“There was no crime committed in their presence,” attorney Bob Rubin said, according to the Journal-Constitution “We’re not contending there was. But there was probable cause to believe a felony had been committed and that this man was attempting to escape or flee.”

Rubin claimed that the Arbery was shot because “Travis McMichael was acting in self-defense.”

An attorney for Gregory McMichael said that Travis’ father “had sound reasons to believe theft had occurred — burglary,” according to the news outlet.

The opening statements come as an almost all-white jury will hear the case over the fatal shooting of Arbery. 

The Hill has reached out to the lawyers of Arbery and both McMichaels.