BRUNSWICK, Georgia – A jury on Wednesday found three white Georgia men guilty of a series of charges in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery early last year.
Father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan each faced a total of nine counts: one count of murder with meanness, four counts of criminal murder, two counts of assault serious, one count of forcible confinement and one count of criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.
The jury declared Travis McMichael, who shot Arbery, guilty on all counts. Gregory McMichael was convicted of all counts except manslaughter. Bryan was convicted of six of the nine counts, including three counts of murder.
Defense attorneys argued that the men are not guilty of all the charges because they were attempting to arrest a citizen and Travis McMichael shot Arbery in self-defense.
The verdict:Jury finds 3 white men guilty of murder in fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery
Here’s what these fees mean:
Criminal murder and malicious murder
Under Georgian law, murder is committed when a person causes the death of another person by committing a crime.
Malicious murder refers to when someone causes the death of another person “unlawfully and with premeditated malice, whether express or implied.”
Express malice is an “unlawfully deliberate intention” to take the life of another human being, “manifested by external circumstances capable of proof”. Malice is implied when “no considerable provocation arises and all the circumstances of the murder show an abandoned and malignant heart.”
The men faced four counts of murder because they faced four felonies: two counts of aggravated assault, one count of forcible confinement and one count of criminal attempt to commit forcible confinement.
Aggravated assault and forcible confinement
The first count of aggravated assault was “with a gun, a lethal weapon”. That’s when Travis pointed a 12-gauge shotgun at Arbery, prosecutors said.
The second count was assault with “an object, apparatus and instrument which, when used offensively against a person, is capable of causing serious bodily harm”. It was then that Arbery was assaulted with the two vans, prosecutors said.
The judge told the jury on Tuesday that for aggravated assault, “the actual harm to the alleged victim does not need to be demonstrated.”
Prosecutors say the men committed false imprisonment when they violated Arbery’s personal freedom by confining and detaining him without legal authorization, using their vans.
Because they tried to detain him on a different street, they were also charged with one count of criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment, prosecutors said.
Judge Timothy Walmsley also told the jury that for Bryan they might view the less serious offenses as common assault, reckless driving and reckless driving instead of a charge of aggravated assault.
According to the judge, these are the conditions for a citizen’s arrest:
- A person can arrest a citizen when an offense is committed in his presence or “with his immediate knowledge”. Or, on the basis of “reasonable and probable grounds for suspicion” if the crime is a felony and the suspect escapes or attempts to escape.
- The arrest of a citizen cannot be based on “unsubstantiated statements by others”.
- This must happen immediately after the offense
- A person cannot use “excessive force or an illegal degree of force” during arrest
- A person placed under unlawful arrest by a citizen “has the right to resist arrest with reasonably necessary force”.
Prosecutors argued that the defendants did not immediately know Arbery had committed a crime, but instead made assumptions based on neighborhood rumors.
They also said none of the defendants told Arbery or the police that they were attempting to carry out a citizen arrest on February 23. However, Walmsley told the jury that a citizen arrest could be made even if the suspect was not told he was under arrest.
In Georgia, a person may threaten or use lethal force if they reasonably believe it is necessary to protect themselves or another person from “imminent” death or serious injury, or to prevent the commission of ” crime by force ”.
Although Arbery was unarmed when he was killed, defense lawyers argued that he could have used his fists as a weapon. Walmsley told jurors that a person can use their fist to commit aggravated assault, which would be considered a “forced crime.”
Walmsley said a person cannot claim self-defense if they are committing a crime, instigating another person to use force or if they are the “unwarranted initial aggressor” during the encounter.
“A person who is not the aggressor does not have to retreat,” Walmsley said.
Contribution: The Associated Press