Arbery’s parents appeared alongside civil rights pillars outside the courthouse after the verdict. They praised the prosecution and supporters who joined the family in their fight for justice for their son, whose murder sparked national outrage and helped shed light on other racist crimes in the country.
Travis McMichael, who shot and killed Arbery, is guilty of all counts: malicious murder, four counts of murder, two counts of aggravated assault, forcible confinement and felony attempt to commit a felony;
His father, Gregory McMichael, who was armed in the bed of a pickup truck as his son chased Arbery, is not guilty of malicious murder but guilty of the other eight counts.
And William “Roddie” Bryan Jr., a neighbor who joined the prosecution and filmed Arbery’s final moments, is guilty of three counts of murder, one count of aggravated assault, forcible confinement and criminal attempt to commit a crime. Bryan was cleared of the charges of malicious murder, felony murder involving aggravated assault with a firearm and aggravated assault with a firearm.
Presented by Reverend Al Sharpton and Civil Rights Lawyers S. Lee Merritt and Ben Crump, Arbery’s parents Wanda Cooper-Jones and Marcus Arbery warmly thanked the crowd. Ahmaud Arbery can now rest in peace, Cooper-Jones said.
“I just want to thank you guys,” she said. “It’s been a long fight. It’s been a tough fight, but God is good.… I never thought that this day would come, but God is good, and I just want to say thank you to everyone, thank you for those who walked, those who prayed. “
Marcus Arbery added, “I want to give all the glory to God because he was the one who made it all possible.… It wasn’t one party that did this. God brought us all together to make this happen. . “
Sharpton said a prayer with the crowd and proclaimed with his characteristic zeal: “May the word be spread around the world that a jury of 11 Whites and one Black from the Deep South rose in the courtroom and says, “Black lives matter. ‘
“Let it be clear that almost 10 years after Trayvon (Martin), God used Wanda and Marcus’ son to prove that if we kept walking and fighting, we would make you hear us. battles to be fought, but it was an important battle today. “
Defense lawyers say they will appeal
The date of the McMichaels and Bryan’s sentencing is unclear. Prosecutors said they would seek life sentences without the possibility of parole.
Following the verdicts, Laura Hogue, attorney for Gregory McMichael, told her client’s crying wife that she was “struck down by a capital F” and planned to appeal after the conviction.
Robert Rubin, who represented Travis McMichael, said he too plans to appeal. He called his client stoic and said he was holding back his reaction to the verdict. Co-counsel Jason Sheffield insisted the McMichaels believed their actions that day were “the right thing to do” and said he was disappointed and saddened by the outcome.
“We also recognize that this is a day of celebration for the Arbery family,” Sheffield said. “We cannot look away from how they feel about it, and we understand that they feel they got justice today. We respect that. We honor that because we honor this system of trial. before a jury. “
The McMichaels and Bryans have been charged with federal hate crime charges and are due to stand trial in February on rights infringement and attempted kidnapping. The McMichaels each face an additional charge of using, carrying, brandishing and unloading a firearm during and in connection with a violent crime. The men pleaded not guilty.
Arbery’s mother has filed civil lawsuits against the McMichaels, Bryans, and police and prosecutors.
The men said they believed Arbery had committed a crime. Evidence presented at trial showed the men chasing Arbery through the streets as he repeatedly tried to escape them. The McMichaels, who were armed, were in a vehicle, while Bryan, who joined them while the chase was in progress, followed them in his own truck, assisting and recording the chase. Arbery was disarmed and on foot.
Video of the murder showed Travis McMichael exiting his truck and confronting Arbery before shooting him as the two clashed. McMichael’s dad watched from the bed of the truck.
The men pleaded not guilty, with the McMichaels saying they were carrying out a citizen arrest and acting in self-defense, and Bryan saying he was not involved in the murder.
Arbery was jogging – a common pastime, according to those who knew him – when the McMichaels grabbed their guns and chased him. Gregory McMichael, a former police officer and former county prosecutor’s office investigator, told authorities Arbery and his son fought over his son’s shotgun and Travis shot Arbery after his assault , according to a police report.
At the stand, Travis McMichael echoed his father’s claim that he acted in self-defense after Arbery grabbed his shotgun. Cross-examined by a prosecutor, Travis McMichael admitted that he told investigators he did not know if Arbery seized the gun and that neither he nor his father mentioned the arrest of a citizen in the police. Her father and Bryan refused to testify.
Travis McMichael said he was “scattered”, traumatized and “mixed up” in the hours following the shooting, offering an explanation for his inconsistencies.
Two prosecutors initially asked Glynn County Police not to make arrests in the case, but about two months after the shooting, video of Bryan’s murder was made public, triggering a nationwide uproar .
Part of a national outcry
The McMichaels were arrested on May 7, 2020 and Bryan was taken into custody two weeks later. The case quickly joined the murders of three blacks – Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, George Floyd in Minneapolis and Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta – redoubling in anguish over racial injustice and nationwide civil unrest.
Father and son believed Arbery was responsible for a series of recent break-ins in the neighborhood, the elder McMichael told police, but Glynn County Police said only one break-in had been reported to the during the two months or so before the shooting. In this incident, a firearm was stolen from an unlocked vehicle at the McMichaels’ home.
Gregory McMichael also suspected Arbery of having been inside a house under construction, he said, but the owner of the house told CNN he had surveillance cameras and didn’t ‘had seen Arbery commit no crime. He did not ask the McMichaels to take action on his behalf, he said in testimony.
Travis McMichael also admitted that he had never seen Arbery armed and never heard Arbery threatening him. On the contrary, Travis McMichael testified, Arbery refused to answer him and showed no interest in conversing.
A state investigator said at a preliminary hearing last year that Bryan and Travis McMichael used racial slurs on social media and messaging services, and Bryan told police he had heard Travis McMichael use a racial epithet after killing Arbery. Evidence of the insults was never presented to the jury.
“I believe Mr. Arbery was being chased, and he ran until he couldn’t run anymore, and that was turning his back on a man with a shotgun or fighting with his bare hands against it. man with the shotgun. He chose to fight, “said Richard Dial, an agent for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, at a probable causes hearing in June 2020.
The composition of the jury was a source of contention
Having only one black juror has been a key complaint from prosecutors and Arbery’s family, as Glynn County’s population is around 69% white and 27% black.
CNN’s Angela Barajas, Adrienne Vogt and Jade Gordon contributed to this report.
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