BRUNSWICK, Georgia – Jurors in the murder trial of the three Georgian men charged with the murder of Ahmaud Arbery listened to hours of argument on Monday as four lawyers presented varying views on what happened that day at the start of Last year.
The prosecution said Arbery was “attacked” by white men who saw a black man run around their small coastal neighborhood and jumped into vans to chase him. Defense attorneys painted a picture of residents nervous about crime in the neighborhood and said the men were trying to detain Arbery for police questioning.
The almost all-white panel of 12 jurors and three deputies was due to hear a rebuttal of the prosecution on Monday afternoon. After the fences, jurors should begin deliberating on a verdict.
Father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan are charged with murder and other crimes in the fatal February 2020 shooting in Brunswick, about 80 miles south of Savannah. They were arrested two months after the shooting, when video of Bryan’s incident on his cell phone was released.
Here’s what you need to know:
Black Lives Matter and Black Panthers protest in Brunswick
Dozens of people with Black Lives Matter and the Black Panthers demonstrated outside the Glynn County Courthouse on Monday during oral argument.
Protesters held up a large image of Ahmaud Arbery and brought a black coffin with the names of the blacks killed.
“Say his name! Ahmaud Arbery!” chanted the demonstrators.
Defense lawyer: Travis McMichael had “reasonable and probable grounds for suspicion”
A defense attorney for Travis McMichael told jurors McMichael was motivated by “the duty and responsibility” to question Arbery about a crime he suspected and which he shot Arbery in self-defense.
Lawyer Jason Sheffield has said the Satilla Shores neighborhood has been on edge following a string of crimes, including the theft of certain equipment from the owner of a house under construction.
Sheffield said McMichael knew that a man had been seen on surveillance footage at the construction site and that he had briefly met a man there two weeks before Arbery’s death. Sheffield said Arbery entered the house several times, as seen in the video, and that there was “no evidence that Ahmaud Arbery ever jogged or exercised in Satilla Shores “.
So when McMichael saw Arbery running, McMichael used his Coast Guard training to conclude that there were “reasonable and probable grounds to suspect” that Arbery had committed a burglary, Sheffield said.
Arbery did not try to defuse the situation by talking to McMichael or running into a yard, away from the men chasing him down the street, Sheffield said. After a five-minute chase, as Arbery ran towards McMichael, McMichael shot Arbery in self-defense, Sheffield said.
McMichael was “totally panicked” after the shooting, Sheffield said. “If it was about wanting to murder a black jogger, if it was really about that, Travis wouldn’t have reacted the way he reacted,” Sheffield said.
Gregory McMichael’s lawyer Laura Hogue echoed many of the same points in her closing argument. Hogue said Gregory McMichael, a retired investigator, “was looking to protect his community” and had “no doubt” that Arbery was the same man seen on surveillance footage.
“A good neighborhood always watches itself,” she said, adding, “The police cannot be everywhere, and in a safe and secure neighborhood the police are helped by these neighbors. “
The prosecutor asks, “Who brought the shotgun to the party?” ”
Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski argued on Monday that the three defendants made rash decisions based on assumptions that Arbery had committed a crime, which she argued had no evidence. Dunikoski claimed the men killed Arbery because he refused to stop and speak to them when they tried to question him.
“They made the decision to attack Ahmaud Arbery in their alleys because he was a black running down the street,” Dunikoski said. She added: “It was an attack on Ahmaud Arbery.”
Dunikoski said Arbery was seen repeatedly on surveillance video wandering around a house under construction in the neighborhood, but said he never took or damaged anything.
While Arbery was inside the site on the day of his assassination, the three men had “no immediate knowledge” of this and determined that Arbery had committed a crime because he was running away. declared Dunikoski. She said the men later claimed they were carrying out a citizen arrest to “justify their actions.”
Dunikoski argued that men cannot claim self-defense “because they were the first wrongful aggressors, and they started this”.
“Who brought the shotgun to the party?” Dunikoski asked, adding, “You can’t create the situation and then say ‘oh, I was defending myself. “”
What are the charges against the McMichaels and Bryan?
Gregory, 65, and Travis McMichael, 35, and Bryan, 52, are charged with indictable murder and malicious murder, two counts of aggravated assault and one count of forcible confinement and criminal attempt to commit a crime. sequestration.
Both murder charges could result in a life sentence. Aggravated assault carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. False imprisonment is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. If the defendants are found guilty of more than one charge, they will be sentenced to the most serious charge.