Jury members have come to a verdict in the racially charged, high-profile trial of the three white men accused of killing black jogger Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia.
The accused – Travis McMichael, his father, Gregory McMichael, and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan Jr. – charged with murder, false imprisonment and other serious crimes in the shooting of Arbery, 25, who was jogging through their neighborhood just outside the port city of Brunswick, Georgia on February 23, 2020.
Defense attorneys have claimed that the three men tried to arrest a legal citizen against Arbery, who they thought had broken into a locally substantiated home when Gregory saw him looking around inside.
McMichaels jumped into his pickup and started chasing after Arbery. Travis, 35, testified at the trial that he tried to “step down” the possible confrontation between the trio but was forced to make a “life-or-death” decision to shoot Arbery when the man took his gun.
Bryan, a neighbor of McMichaels, assisted in the hunt and recorded a cell phone video of the hunt and the shooting.
Prosecutors said Arbery’s only crime was to be black and to dare to flee from his attackers.
The defendants “cannot claim self-defense under the law because they were the original unjustified attackers,” Special Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski said in her closing argument.
She added that the men did not have the right to arrest a citizen because they had no knowledge that Arbery had committed a crime.
“They do not know what he has done. They do not know why he is running out there. They have no immediate knowledge. They have no knowledge. They have speculation because he is running down the street,” Dunikoski said.
Jason Sheffield, a lawyer for Travis McMichael, argued that even if his client “wishes” the fateful meeting to develop differently, it does not mean that his actions that day were not enshrined in law.
“You may use force that is likely to cause death or serious injury if you think it is necessary,” he said.
All three defendants risk a minimum sentence of life imprisonment if convicted of the murder charges.