Three men charged in the high-profile death of Ahmaud Arbery were found guilty Wednesday.
“Thank God,” Theawanza Brooks, Arbery’s aunt, said as verdicts were read, according to The New York Times. Another aunt, Diane Arbery Jackson, said softly, “This is amazing.”
Travis McMichael, who shot Arbery, was found guilty of all the counts against him. These were: malice murder, four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit a felony. He faces a minimum sentence of life in prison, but prosecutors are expected to argue for a sentence of life in prison with no parole.
Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael’s father, was found guilty of four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit a felony. Jurors found him not guilty on charges of malice murder, according to Fox News. He could be sentenced to life in prison with no parole.
William “Roddie” Bryan Jr., was found guilty of three counts of felony murder and three other charges. He was found not guilty of malice murder. He was found not guilty of one count of felony murder and one county of aggravated assault. Bryan was accused of filming the encounter between the McMichaels and Arbery. He could be sentenced to life in prison with no parole.
Kyle Rittenhouse is free and the men who killed Ahmaud Arbery are going to prison.
Our system works and the outcomes of these two trials prove that fact.
— David Hookstead (@dhookstead) November 24, 2021
According to Fox News, malice murder takes place when someone “unlawfully and with malice aforethought, either express or implied, causes the death of another human being.” No premeditation is required.
Felony murder comes into play when an individual, while intentionally committing a felony, kills someone.
The Brunswick, Georgia, jury began deliberations Tuesday.
“The absence of a viable claim of self-defense” was key to the convictions, according to CNN legal analyst Laura Coates.
“Even when Travis McMichael took the stand and said, ‘No, he never threatened me. No, I don’t recall him trying to take the gun. No, he never shouted at me.’ How could you possibly make a case at that point for self-defense?” Coates said
Arbery’s family jumped, clapped and cried out as the verdict against Travis McMichael was read, according to the Times.
Gregory McMichael initially told police that they pursued Arbery on Feb. 23, 2020, because they thought he was involved in the recent burglaries in the area and Arbery had attacked them, ABC News reported.
The case drew national attention when a video circulated the internet and spurred anger across the country.
As The Associated Press reported in a summary of the footage, “The cellphone video, initially posted by a Brunswick radio station, shows a black man running at a jogging pace on the left side of a road. A truck is parked in the road ahead of him. One man is inside the pickup’s bed, and another is standing beside the open driver’s side door.
“The runner crosses the road to pass the pickup on the passenger side, then crosses back in front of the truck. A gunshot sounds, and the video shows the runner grappling with a man in the street over what appears to be a shotgun or rifle. A second shot can be heard, and the runner can be seen punching the man.
“A third shot is fired at point-blank range. The runner staggers a few feet and falls face down.”
During deliberations Wednesday, a firestorm raged outside the courtroom over comments made Tuesday by Laura D. Hogue, a lawyer for Gregory McMichael who during her closing remarks said on the day he was killed, Arbery wore no socks “to cover his long, dirty toenails,” according to the Times.
“I’ve never sat in a courtroom where a victim was akin to an animal, talking about dirty toenails — like he was not even a human, but an animal,” said the Rev. Al Sharpton, who claimed the trial featured “some of the most racist statements made in a court of law in the decades that I’ve been out here.”
Franklin Hogue, Laura Hogue’s law partner, provided context for the comment by saying that the prosecution had implied Arbery was in the neighborhood to jog, something for which he said the only evidence presented was that Arbery had been captured by a surveillance camera running from a house that was under construction.
“If one wants to rebut that scant evidence presented at trial, then for those on our jury who may actually jog — and some do, as we learned about them — they may find it a reason to doubt the state’s theory of ‘jogging’ to be reminded that this ‘jogger’ was wearing no socks and had unkempt feet,” Franklin Hogue said.
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