Court Battles

Ahmaud Arbery killers convicted on federal hate crime charges

The three men convicted of killing Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man who was jogging in a south Georgia neighborhood in February 2020, were convicted Tuesday on federal hate crime charges. 

A jury determined Travis McMichael, his father Gregory McMichael and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan were motivated by race when they chased down and shot Arbery.

The three in November were convicted on state murder charges and sentenced to life in prison. Travis and Gregory McMichael were sentenced without the possibility of parole.

On Tuesday they were convicted of federal hate crimes charge of interference with rights, in this case Arbery’s right to use a public street, and attempted kidnapping. The McMichaels were also convicted on a weapons charge.

The decision comes one day before the two-year anniversary of Arbery’s death.

The defense argued during the trial the three men had not been motivated by Arbery’s race, but by his behavior.
 
“If you ask, ‘Would these defendants have grabbed guns and done this to a white guy?’ and the answer is yes,” Amy Lee Copeland, an attorney for Travis McMichael, said during the trial
 
But prosecutors used social media posts and other evidence to show jurors the three men had a history of using racial epithets and argued race was a motivating factor in the killing. 
 
That evidence included social media posts from Travis McMichael in which he referred to Black people as “subhuman savages” and “monkeys.”
 
When Bryan learned his daughter was dating a Black man, he made an online post that contained a racial slur, according to evidence presented at trial. 
 
Had Arbery been white, he would have “been home in time for Sunday supper,” the Department of Justice’s deputy chief of the civil rights division, Barbara Bernstein, said in court. 
 
“Instead, he went out for a jog, and ended up running for his life. Instead, he ended up bleeding to death, alone and scared, in the middle of the street,” she said.
 
Civil rights activists immediately praised the verdict.
 
“The guilty verdict of the 3 murderers of Ahmaud Arbery of hate crimes is a precedent setting verdict. Even in the Deep South the Feds will convict you of hate actions. I salute Ahmaud’s parents for forcing the trial,” Rev. Al Sharpton tweeted.
 
The judge said on Tuesday that sentencing would be scheduled once pre-sentencing reports have been filed, according to CNN.

Updated at 11:42 a.m.

Tags Ahmaud Arbery Gregory McMichael Travis McMichael

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