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Lawyers Plead Final Case Before Jurors Over Ahmaud Arbery’s Death

The arguments unfolded before a disproportionately white jury after 10 days of testimony that ended last week, shortly after the man who shot Arbery said he pulled the trigger to to defend oneself.

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. Although prosecutors did not argue that racism motivated the murder, federal authorities charged the three men with hate crimes, alleging that they hunted down and killed Arbery because he was black.

Father and son Greg and Travis McMichael seized guns and chased Arbery in a van after spotting him running around their neighborhood on February 23, 2020. A neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, said is joined in the lawsuit and recorded the video of the opening of Travis McMichael. fire as Arbery threw punches and grabbed his 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 face counts of murder and other charges.

Prosector Linda Dunikoski told the jury that the defendants had no evidence that Arbery had committed crimes in their neighborhood, but instead acted on assumptions based on neighborhood gossip and speculative publications. on social networks.

“They made the decision to attack Ahmaud Arbery in their alleys because he was a black man running down the street,” Dunikoski said. She added: “They shot him and killed him. Not because he was a threat to them. But because he wouldn’t stop to talk to them.

Defense lawyers said the men suspected Arbery of robbing a house under construction and intended to hold him until police arrived. Security cameras recorded Arbery inside the house five times, but none of the videos showed him stealing or damaging anything.

Dunikoski said the McMichaels and Bryan chased Arbery for five minutes, using their trucks to cut him off, drive him off the road and keep him from fleeing. And she repeated Greg Michael’s words to local police after the shooting that Arbery was “trapped like a rat”.

Bryan recorded Travis McMichael standing with a shotgun in front of the driver’s side door of his truck idling as Arbery approached on foot, then ran to the passenger side. They met in front of the truck, which blocked the view of the camera, when Travis McMichael fired the first of three shotgun shots. The video shows Arbery punching him and grabbing the gun as two more shots are fired, then Arbery turns to try to run again before falling face down on the street.

“He chose to fight,” said Laura Hogue, lawyer for Greg McMichael. She said Arbery had decided “for no reason to run towards a man wielding a shotgun, leaving him no option but to be put in a position to kill him.”

Referring to a smiling photo of Arbery that the jury showed at trial, Hogue told the jury: “A handsome teenage boy with a broad smile in a crooked baseball cap can stray… and years later he can end up slipping into a house that is not his own, and running away instead of suffering the consequences.

Bryan’s attorney, Kevin Gough, suggested Arbery should have called for help if he was unfairly prosecuted.

“Why doesn’t he call, ‘Hey, someone is calling 911! There are fools after me, ”said Gough. “Maybe it’s because Mr. Arbery doesn’t want help.”

Gough said Bryan was unaware the McMichaels had guns moments before the shooting. And he suggested that a higher power guided Bryan to join the chase so he could record the shooting on his phone.

“You can call it karma. You can call it fate. I would call it divine providence, ”said Gough. “Someone is guiding Mr. Bryan, whether it is a conscious thought process or not. Something guides Mr. Bryan down this street to document what is going on.

Sheffield, who represents Travis McMichael, said his client never wanted to shoot Arbery but was forced to make a life and death decision when Arbery charged him in front of the truck.

He said residents of Satilla Shores were already nervous amid reports of thefts and suspicious people in the neighborhood. He said Arbery’s frequent visits to the unfinished house suggested he had stolen items from a boat the owner of the house kept in the garage without a door shortly before installing the cameras.

Then Travis McMichael had his own “horrific experience,” Sheffield said, “when he met Arbery in the yard the night 12 days before the shooting. He breathlessly told a 911 dispatcher that Arbery had reached for his pocket as if he had a gun when confronted.

Dunikoski noted that Arbery never threatened the McMichaels during the chase and that he carried no weapons.

“You can’t bring a gun to a fight. It’s unfair, isn’t it? said the prosecutor.

She said it was Travis McMichael who attacked Arbery – first with his truck, then pointing a shotgun at him as Arbery ran towards him.

“They can’t claim self-defense under the law because they were the first wrongful aggressors,” Dunikoski said, “and they started this.”

Arbery had enrolled in technical college and was preparing to study to become an electrician like his uncles when he was killed.

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