Ahmaud Arbery trial verdict: Travis McMichael guilty on all counts
Jurors in Brunswick, Georgia, on Wednesday found Travis McMichael and his father, Greg McMichael, guilty on nearly all counts, including felony murder, capping off an intense trial surrounding the February 2020 shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery.
Jurors also found the McMichaels' neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan, guilty of felony murder.
Travis McMichael, 35, was found guilty on all counts, and Greg McMichael, 65, was found guilty on eight after they shot and killed Arbery — an unarmed Black man — while he was on a run in a neighborhood outside of Brunswick.
The twelve jurors, 11 of whom are White and one of whom is Black, reached their verdict on the 14th day of the trial. The prosecution and defense made their closing arguments on Monday, when protesters including Black armed militias appeared outside the Glynn County courthouse, demanding justice for the deceased 25 year old.
On the Sunday afternoon when Arbery was killed, Greg McMichael spotted Arbery "hauling a—" by his house and called for his son. The pair grabbed their guns and hopped in a pickup truck. Bryan soon joined the chase in his own pickup truck.
The McMichaels allegedly recognized Arbery, who had been spotted on surveillance video inside their neighbor’s under-construction home on five occasions. There is no evidence he ever stole anything from their neighbor's home.
Travis McMichael testified last week that he tried to talk to Arbery, whom he recognized from the surveillance footage, but the young man kept running.
Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski told jurors that the men pursued Arbery for five minutes, as Greg McMichael threatened, "Stop or I'll blow your f—king head off!" The men then used their trucks to trap him, she said.
Arbery darted right to the other side of the vehicle then turned left toward Travis McMichael. After Travis McMichael flashed his shotgun, Arbery rushed toward him. The two tussled over the weapon before Travis McMichael opened fire three times at close range, striking Arbery twice in the torso, and killing him.
Bryan filmed part of the encounter on his cellphone.
Travis McMichael testified that he acted in self-defense, opening fire only after Arbery, who was unarmed, attacked him and grabbed for his gun.
Glynn County Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley barred evidence about the defendants' alleged use of racial slurs and Arbery's troubled past — calling some of the material too inflammatory and prejudicial.
After Travis McMichael shot Arbery in the torso, he allegedly blurted "F—ing n——" as the 25 year old took his final breaths, according to Bryan's statement to an investigator. Dunikoski pushed last week for the judge to let her cross Travis McMichael on the alleged racial slur — but he ruled against her.
In addition, Walmsley, in a blow to the defense, ruled that they could not admit any evidence of Arbery’s troubled past — including brushes with the law and mental health history.
Prosecutors said Arbery was an avid jogger, who lived just two miles from where he was killed.
Arbery’s killing became part of a larger national reckoning on racial injustice after the graphic video of his death filmed by Bryan was leaked online two months later.
No one was charged in the killing until Bryan’s video was made public and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case from local police. The men also face federal hate crime charges.
Audrey Conklin, Rebecca Rosenberg