Prosecutor describes Ahmaud Arbery’s killers’ use of racial slurs: NPR


Federal prosecutors argue that, from left, Travis McMichael, his father Gregory McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan Jr. are guilty of a hate crime in the death of Ahmaud Arbery, of which they were convicted by a state court.

Glynn County Detention Center / via AP


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Glynn County Detention Center / via AP

Prosecutor describes Ahmaud Arbery's killers' use of racial slurs: NPR

Federal prosecutors argue that, from left, Travis McMichael, his father Gregory McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan Jr. are guilty of a hate crime in the death of Ahmaud Arbery, of which they were convicted by a state court.

Glynn County Detention Center / via AP

The three white men who were convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery, a black jogger whose 2020 shooting death sparked protests and calls for racial justice, had a history of racist comments and slurs in SMS, a federal prosecutor said in court Monday.

A multiracial jury was seated in the three men’s federal hate crimes trial, as defense attorneys admitted their clients used offensive language and views about black people.

But defense lawyers insisted the three men’s pursuit of the 25-year-old was prompted by ‘honest, albeit erroneous suspicions’ that he ‘committed crimes’ and not solely because of his race, the Associated Press reported.

“I’m not going to ask you to like Travis McMichael,” Amy Lee Copeland, the defense attorney for the man who shot Arbery, said, AP reported.

“I’m not going to ask you to rule that he did nothing wrong. But I’m going to ask you to return a verdict of not guilty on this indictment,” she continued.

McMichael, along with his father, Greg McMichael, chased Arbery in their van after driving past their home in Brunswick, Georgia on February 23, 2020.

Both men said they believe Arbery may be the person responsible for a recent spate of burglaries in their Stilla Shores neighborhood. A neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, joined the McMichaels in the pursuit.

At one point Travis McMichael and Arbery got into a fight and McMichael fired his shotgun at Arbery, killing him. Arbery’s family members called the murder, which was captured on video by Bryan and later released to the public, a “modern day lynching”.

Last month, the three men were convicted of murder and a judge sentenced them to life in prison.

The federal trial, which will examine whether race was a factor in the killing, begins a month after the three men were sentenced to life in prison in a separate murder trial in Georgia state court. A jury found the trio guilty of murder and other charges related to Arbery’s death.

Federal Prosecutor Bobbi Bernstein said Monday that Travis McMichael repeatedly used the N-word and other words that describe black people as something less than human.

Bernstein said there is evidence that Greg McMichael, a former police officer and investigator with the district attorney’s office, spoke out against black people being “just trouble” and posted memes on social networks that supported vigilantism – suggesting that it is better to have a loaded gun than to call the police.

Additionally, Bernstein said the third defendant, William “Roddie” Bryan, also used the N-word and other slurs, in one instance, after learning his daughter was dating a black man. She said Bryan commented that her daughter “has her n——-r now,” according to AP.

Bernstein told the jury “If Ahmaud Arbery had been white, he would have gone for a jog, checked out a cool house under construction, and come home in time for Sunday dinner. Instead, he ended up running to save his life.”

Earlier Monday, US District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood was made up of 12 jurors and four alternates – down from a group of about 1,000 potential jurors who were called last week.

The court said eight of the jurors are white, three are black and one is Hispanic. Of the four alternate jurors, the court identified three as white and one as Pacific Islander. The jury in the state murder trial was almost entirely white, with only one black juror.


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