Three white men charged with the murder of a black man named Ahmaud Arbery in the state of Georgia, in the southern United States, were convicted of murder on Wednesday after a trial lasting nearly two weeks.
Men face a minimum sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole. US President Joe Biden said after the guilty verdict was announced that he “guarantees that those who committed this horrific crime will be punished”.
Arbery was jogging in a predominantly white neighborhood in the Georgian port city of Brunswick in February last year when he was fatally shot.
Gregory McMichael, 65, a retired police officer and his son Travis, 35, seized guns and pursued Arbery, who was unarmed, in a van and shot the 25-year-old. Neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan, 52, recorded a cellphone video as he joined them in the chase.
The men claimed to have killed the unarmed jogger in self-defense.
After the verdicts were announced, Arbery’s father, Marcus Arbery Sr, was seen crying and kissing supporters outside the courtroom.
“He did nothing,” said the father, “but run and dream.”
What happened during the trial?
Senior prosecutor Linda Dunikoski said the three men had “no badge, no uniform, no authority” and were “just weird guys in a white van”.
She also quoted their own words to police immediately after the shooting, when they said they saw Arbery running but were not sure if he had committed a crime.
Family members of Ahmaud Arbery watch prosecutors deliver final statements on Tuesday
“You can’t arrest a citizen because someone is running down the street and you have no idea what they’ve done wrong,” Dunikoski said.
Dunikoski said the defense sought to blame Arbery for his own death.
“Standard trick: Slandering the victim is the victim’s fault,” Dunikoski told the jury. “You cannot claim self-defense if you are the wrongful aggressor,” she told jurors in her closing arguments. “Who started this? It wasn’t Ahmaud Arbery. “
The jury, consisting of 11 white jurors and one black juror, was selected after a two-and-a-half-week selection process and included the calling of 1,000 potential jurors from the coastal community of South Georgia .
Prosecutors said the defense deliberately disqualified potential black jurors because of their race.
Judge Timothy Walmsley, who is overseeing the case, said Wednesday the court found there appeared to have been “intentional discrimination” in jury selection.
However, the judge said the case could go ahead with the selected jury, as the defense was able to provide valid reasons beyond race why the other black jurors were fired.
A graphic video of Arbery’s shooting went viral on social media after his murder.
It took police more than two months after the murder to arrest the McMichaels and Bryans, fueling uproar across the country and prompting Arbery’s lawyers to say the 25-year-old had been the subject of racial profiling.
Three months after Arbery’s murder, George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was murdered by a white police officer in the midwestern state of Minnesota, sparking nationwide Black Lives Matters protests against the Widespread racial injustice and police violence against Africans. Americans.
mvb, wmr / aw (Reuters, AP, AFP)
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