After more than two weeks of testimony and argument, the prosecution had the final say as it bears the onus of proving its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski spent two hours Tuesday morning hammering out attempts by defense lawyers to blame the 25-year-old black man for his own death. Defense attorneys said Arbery hit hard with his fists to resist the arrest of a legitimate citizen by the defendants.
“You cannot claim self-defense if you are the wrongful aggressor,” Linda Dunikoski told jurors in her closing statement. ” Who started ? It wasn’t Ahmaud Arbery.
Dunikoski said Arbery’s pursuers had “no badge, no uniform, no authority” and were “just weird guys in a white van”. And she quoted their own words to police immediately after the shooting, when they said she saw Arbery running but not knowing if he had committed a crime.
“You cannot arrest a citizen because someone is running on the street and you have no idea what they did wrong,” Dunikoski said.
After the prosecution was concluded, Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley gave the disproportionately white jury instructions on how to apply the law before the panel began its deliberations at the Glynn County Courthouse in the port city of Brunswick.
Arbery’s murder became part of a larger national calculation of racial injustice after a graphic video of his death leaked online two months later.
Father and son Greg and Travis McMichael seized guns and chased Arbery in a van after seeing him driving through their housing estate on February 23, 2020. A neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, walked away. joined in the lawsuit and recorded the video of the opening of Travis McMichael. fire as Arbery threw punches and grabbed McMichael’s shotgun.
No one was charged with the murder until Bryan’s video was leaked and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case from the local police. The three men are charged with murder and other offenses.
Dunikoski said on Tuesday the McMichaels and Bryan threatened Arbery both with their pickup trucks and by pointing a shotgun at him before the final showdown in which Arbery threw punches and grabbed the weapon.
She noted that Bryan told police he used his truck to drive Arbery into a ditch and cut him off, while Greg McMichael told officers they “tricked him like a rat”. The actions of the two men, she said, directly contributed to Arbery’s death.
“It doesn’t matter who actually pulled the trigger,” Dunikoski said. “Under the law, they are all guilty.
She also said there was no evidence Arbery committed any crimes in the accused’s neighborhood. She said he had never been seen stealing anything the five times he was recorded by security cameras at an unfinished house under construction from where he was seen sneaking around. ‘escape.
“You have wood, you have all this stuff,” Dunikoski said. “Sir. Arbery never shows up with a bag. He doesn’t stop with a U-haul.… All he does is walk around for a few minutes and then leave.
The prosecutor told jurors that someone can only arrest a citizen in “emergency situations” where a crime occurs “on the spot”.
Defense attorneys objected to Dunikoski’s explanation for a citizen’s arrest because they argue the McMichaels had reason to suspect Arbery had stolen items from the house. They said the owner discovered the missing items before installing security cameras.
“This is a false statement of the law and the argument is inappropriate,” said Justice Franklin Hogue, an attorney for Greg McMichael. “There is no way we can fix it” in front of the jury, he said, as defense attorneys finished their pleadings on Monday.
Lawyer Jason Sheffield said his client Travis McMichael fired his shotgun in self-defense after Arbery charged him, punched him and attempted to grab the gun. Sheffield called Arbery’s death a tragedy, but his fault.
Lawyers for the other two defendants also blamed Arbery. Laura Hogue, lawyer for Greg McMichael, said Arbery “chose to fight.” Kevin Gough, who represents Bryan, wondered why Arbery hadn’t called for help if he was in danger.
“Maybe it’s because Mr. Arbery doesn’t want help,” Gough said.
Arbery had enrolled in a technical college and was preparing at the time to study to become an electrician like his uncles.