A jury in the United States this week convicted three white men for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, a black man who was hunted and shot dead when he jogged in Georgia last year, in a decision that was welcomed as a measure of justice to Arbery’s family.
The 11-man jury in Brunswick, Georgia on Wednesday found Travis McMichael, his father, Gregory McMichael, and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan guilty of, among other things, the murder of the 25-year-old.
A jury believed in evidence of their eyes and saw the cruelty in the hearts of the murderers. May this verdict bring a small measure of peace to #AhmaudArbery’s family and loved ones, ”said Stacey Abrams, a former Georgia gubernatorial candidate. sa on Twitter.
The three men chased Arbery on February 23, 2020 through the coastal community of Satilla Shores, just outside Brunswick, and killed him with a shotgun. They risk life imprisonment, and a judge will decide whether it comes with or without the possibility of parole.
While McMichaels and Bryan are expected to appeal their convictions, they are still facing an upcoming federal trial where they will be prosecuted for hate crimes.
All three have it bad not guilty of what will be a completely separate case that is not affected by the outcome of the state trial this week – and as a civil rights lawyer representing the Arbery family has said will give one last chance to get to the “core” of what he called a lynching.
“This was due to the color of Ahmaud Arbery’s skin,” Benjamin Crump said outside Glynn County Superior Court in Brunswick before the verdict was read out on Wednesday.
A graphic video of Arbery’s killing leaked two months after the three men chased and shot him deadly in the largely white community.
It fueled public protests against anti-black racism and vigilantism, as well as demands for accountability, and got Georgia’s government officials to take over the case and finally prosecute the trio.
The federal prosecution accuses the three men of hate crimes and says that they violated Arbery’s civil rights by chasing and killing him because he was black, among other things. It does not show what evidence prosecutors can present to convince a jury that racism played a role.
The Arbery family hopes to prove racist language alleged to have been used by Travis McMichael, none of whom appeared before the Glynn County jury, will eventually be considered by the justice system, Crump said.
In pre-trial motions, state prosecutors told the court they had evidence that the defendants were motivated by “racist animus”. At a bond hearing, they said that Travis McMichael, 35, had used racist slander on social media and in a text message.
At a pre-trial hearing, an investigator said Bryan told him he heard McMichael use slander while standing over Arbery’s body, although McMichael’s lawyers questioned Bryan’s credibility.
Prosecutors also decided not to show the jury the vain registration plate that the younger McMichael attached to his pick-up in 2020. The sign includes the old Georgia State flag, which clearly contains the Confederate battle flag.
There has been a debate across the United States in recent years about symbols, statues and monument linked to Conspiracy, a group of 11 American southern states that fought against the abolition of slavery in the 1860s.
Critics have said that such monuments are one show of white supremacy, slavery and decades of institutional racism, while advocates claim to show Southern pride.
“You should believe that a federal judge will be willing to hear evidence of racist animus, including specific text messages, when racial animus is an important part of the indictment,” Ayesha Bell Hardaway, director of Case Western Reserve University’s Social Justice Institute, told news agency Reuters.
The US Department of Justice said in a statement that there may be some overlap of witnesses between the two cases, but they were otherwise independent of each other.
The lawyers representing the three men in the federal trial did not decline or respond to requests for comment from Reuters.
U.S. District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood has scheduled for the February 7 jury trial to begin on February 7.