A jury in Glynn County, Georgia, found all three defendants– Gregory McMichael, his son Travis McMichael and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan Jr. – guilty on multiple counts of murder on November 24 for the killing of Ahmaud Arbery.
Arbery, an unarmed 25-year-old Black man, was fatally shot in Satilla Shores, a neighborhood near Brunswick in Glynn County, Georgia while out for a jog on February 23, 2020.
Travis McMichael, the man who shot Arbery, was found guilty on all nine charges he faced.
His father, Gregory McMichael, was found guilty on eight of the nine charges he faced.
William “Roddie” Bryan Jr. was found guilty on seven of the nine charges he faced.
The decision was read to the court shortly after 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Earlier Wednesday, Jurors asked to review video of the deadly encounter between Arbery and the men charged with murder in his killing as deliberations entered their second day here in coastal Georgia.
The jury also asked the court to play a recording of the 911 call that one of the defendants placed on Feb. 23, 2020, just before his son fatally shot Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man. Their verdict in this nationally watched case —follows 10 days of witness testimony .
The panel deliberated for more than six hours Tuesday before returning Wednesday morning. Less than an hour later, they asked to review cellphone video at the heart of the case.
The cellphone video — shot by Bryan — which was leaked in May 2020, drew public outcry and prompted national outrage.
The footage shows Arbery running ahead of Bryan, toward the McMichaels and their parked truck. Both McMichaels were armed.
Arbery eventually passes the truck and then runs toward Travis McMichael; the truck obscures their movements as a first shot rings out. The two men struggle, and Arbery falls to the ground.
Prosecutors say the men were dangerous vigilantes who jumped to conclusions about an unarmed “Black man running down the street” and violently confronted him.
The defense attempted to portray the accused as concerned neighbors attempting to make a legitimate “citizen’s arrest” that turned deadly when Travis McMichael shot in self-defense, even though they lacked evidence that Arbery was suspected of break-ins.
It took more than two months for the killers to be arrested, along with the neighbor who filmed the death.
The case drew comparisons to a lynching last year and accusations that authorities had brushed a Black jogger’s death aside. It garnered attention just before the police killing George Floyd, a Black man in Minneapolis, sparked a broader reckoning with racism in America.
“This is a very consequential day, not just for Ahmaud Arbery but for families all over America,” said Ben Crump, a prominent civil rights lawyer who represents the family. “We have to show that America must be better than what we saw in that video.”
Prosecutors argued that racism was a key factor in the case.
In her opening statement, lead prosecutor Linda Dunikoski told the jury: “All three of these defendants did everything they did based on assumptions – not on facts, not on evidence.”
On 8 November, the jury saw footage from police body cameras in the moments just after Arbery was killed. Prosecutors used the video in court in an effort to undermine the defense’s argument that the three men were simply trying to detain Arbery.
“You had no choice,” the elder McMichael is heard telling Travis as the first officer approaches.
Arbery was shown on the ground just a few steps away.
Prosecutors rested their case on November 16, after showing jurors graphic photos of Arbery’s shotgun wounds.
In her closing argument on November 22, Dunikoski said that the defendants “assumed” Arbery had committed a crime and tried to unlawfully detain him “without legal authority”.
“You can’t create the situation and then go ‘I was defending myself’,” Dunikoski said, adding that all three defendants had made their decisions because Arbery “was a black man running down the street”.
Despite protests from prosecutors, only one member of the 12-person jury was Black.
Defense lawyers ruled out some African-American candidates for the panel, citing their possible preconceived bias on the case under questioning.