All three men accused in Arbery’s death were convicted of murder

All three men accused in Arbery’s death were convicted of murder

Brunswick, J.A.; — Jurors on Wednesday indicted the three white men accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery, the black man who stalked and murdered a murderer while running through their neighborhood in an attack that has become part of a larger national reckoning of racial injustice.

The jury debated about 10 hours before the conviction of Greg McMichael, his son Travis McMichael, and neighbor William “Rudy” Bryan, who all face a minimum sentence of life imprisonment. It is up to the judge to decide whether or not that comes with the possibility of parole.

Travis McMichael stood with the referee, his attorney’s arm around his shoulder. At one point, McMichael lowered his head to his chest. After the sentences were read, and as he stood to leave, he said “I love you” to his mother who was in the courtroom.


Moments after the verdicts were announced, Marcus Arbery Sr., Arbery’s father, was seen crying and hugging supporters outside the courtroom.

“He did nothing,” said the father, “but ran and dreamed.”

Ben Crump, Arbery’s father’s lawyer, spoke outside the courtroom, repeatedly saying, “Ahmed’s soul has defeated the lynching gang.”

Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, thanked the assembled crowd for passing the verdict and said she didn’t think she would see this day.

It was a long battle. It was a tough fight. “But God is good,” she said. “Now in peace,” she said of her son.

The McMichaels grabbed guns and jumped into a pickup truck to pursue the 25-year-old after seeing him run outside the coastal city of Brunswick, Georgia in February 2020. Brian joined the chase in his own van and recorded a mobile video of the shooting of Travis McMichael. Arberry.


The father and son told police they suspected Arbery was a fugitive thief. But the prosecution argued that the men caused the bloody confrontation and that there was no evidence that Arbery committed crimes in the neighborhood.

“We applaud the courage and bravery of this jury for saying that what happened on February 23, 2020 to Ahmaud Arbery — the hunting and killing of Ahmaud Arbery — was not only a moral error, but a legal error, and we are grateful for that,” said Latonia Hines, Cobb County Executive Assistant Attorney.

“The jury system is working in this country, and when you give the truth to people and they see it, they will do the right thing,” added Attorney General Linda Donekowski.

Brian’s attorney, Kevin Gough, said his team was “disappointed with the ruling, but we respect it.” He plans to file new legal applications for Brian after the Thanksgiving holiday.

Supreme Court Justice Timothy Walmsley did not immediately set a date for a ruling, saying he wanted to give both sides time to prepare.


Although prosecutors did not argue that racism was the motive for the murder, federal authorities charged them with hate crimes, claiming that they stalked and killed Arbery because he was black. The case is due to go to trial in February.

The disproportionately white jury took over the case around midday Tuesday.

Shortly after returning to court on Wednesday morning, the jury sent a note to the judge requesting that two copies of the shooting video — the original and one that investigators had enhanced to reduce shadows — be shown three times each.

The jurors returned to the courtroom to watch the videos and listen again to call 911 from one of the defendants from the bed of a pickup truck about 30 seconds before the shooting.

On the 911 call that was reviewed by the jury, Greg McMichael told the operator, “I’m here in Satella Shores. There’s a black guy running down the street.”

Then he started screaming, apparently as Arbery ran toward a parked McMichael truck with Bryan’s truck coming behind him: “Stand there! Damn, stop! Travis!” Gunshots could be heard a few seconds later.


The graphic death was leaked online two months later, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case, and quickly arrested the three men. Each of them is accused of murder and other crimes.

Defense attorneys say the McMichael family was trying to arrest a lawful citizen when they set out after Arbery, seeking to detain and interrogate him on suspicion of being a thief after he was seen running from a nearby home under construction.

Travis McMichael testified that he shot Arbery in self-defense, saying that the running man turned and attacked with his fists as he passed the parked truck where Travis McMichael and his rifle stood.

Prosecutors said there was no evidence that Arbery committed crimes in the defendants’ neighborhood. He had attended a technical college and was preparing to study to become an electrician like his uncles.


Sean Sales, 32, a resident of Brunswick, rushed into the courtroom to join the crowd cheering the verdict.

“We just went out to see history,” Sells said as he pushed his 10-month-old daughter into a stroller.

The seal, who is black, described the convictions as a victory not only for his community but for the nation.

“Most wounds will not heal,” he said, from a long history of inequality. “But it’s a start and it shows that people are trying.”

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