According to RUSS BYNUM
BRUNWICK, Ga. (AP) — Three men are convicted of murder Wednesday for killing Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man who ran empty-handed in the Georgia subdivision as white foreigners chased him, trapped him in a quiet street, and blew him up. with her shotgun.
The February 2020 massacre received limited attention at first. But when video of the shooting leaked online, Arbery’s death quickly became another example of the nation’s reckoning with the racial injustice in the way Black people are treated in their daily lives.
All men now face mandatory life sentences. The judge will decide whether their sentences were carried out with or without the possibility of parole.
As the first of the 23 guilty verdicts were read out, Arbery’s father was forced to leap to his feet and leave the courtroom shouting. At the reading of the final criminal count, Arbery’s mother lowered her head and clenched her fists in silence.
“He did nothing but run and dream,” Marcus Arbery Sr. said of his son. Outside the courthouse, dozens of Black supporters hugged and cried.
The jury debated for nearly 10 hours before convicting Greg McMichael, his son Travis McMichael, and neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan.
McMichaels picked up guns and jumped into a pickup truck to chase 25-year-old Arbery after he saw her running outside the Georgia port city of Brunswick. Bryan joined the chase in his own pickup truck and recorded cell phone video of Travis McMichael fatally shooting Arbery.
The father and son told the police they suspected Arbery was an escaped thief. However, the prosecution argued that the men had instigated the deadly confrontation and that there was no evidence that Arbery had committed any crime in the neighborhood.
“We appreciate and are grateful for the courage and courage to say that what happened to Ahmaud Arbery on February 23, 2020 – the hunting and killing of Ahmaud Arbery – was not only morally wrong, but legally wrong. , said.
Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski added: “The jury system works in this country. When you present the truth to people, they will do the right thing when they see it.”
Travis McMichael, 35, defended the verdict by throwing his lawyer’s arm over his shoulder. He suddenly lowered his head to his chest. He said “I love you” to his mother in the courtroom gallery as he stood up to leave after the verdicts were read.
Greg McMichael, 65, hung his head when the judge read his first guilty verdict. Bryan, 52, bit his lip.
Speaking outside the courthouse, Arbery’s father’s lawyer, Ben Crump, said repeatedly that “Ahmaud’s spirit defeated the lynch mob.”
Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, thanked the crowd for the decision and said she didn’t think she would see this day.
“It has been a long struggle. It has been a difficult struggle. But God is good,” he said, adding that his son will now rest in peace.
Travis McMichaels’ lawyers said both he and his father felt they were doing the right thing and believed the video would help their case. But they also said the McMichaels were saddened by Arbery’s murder.
“I can honestly tell you, these guys are upset about what happened to Ahmaud Arbery,” said attorney Jason Sheffield. “They’re sad that he’s dead. They’re upset about the tragedy that happened because of the choices they made to get there and try to stop him.”
They planned to appeal.
Bryan’s attorney, Kevin Gough, said his team was “disappointed by the decision, but we respect it.” He planned to open new cases after Thanksgiving.
Supreme Court Justice Timothy Walmsley did not immediately schedule a sentencing date, saying he wanted to give both parties time to prepare.
President Joe Biden said in a statement that Arbery’s killing was a “destructive reminder” of how hard the country must work in the fight for racial justice.
“While guilty verdicts may reflect that our justice system is doing its job, that alone is not enough. “Instead, we must be committed to building a future of unity and shared strength, where no one fears violence because of their skin color.”
While prosecutors did not claim racism motivated the murder, federal officials charged them with hate crimes, claiming they chased and killed Arbery because she was Black. This case is scheduled to be heard in February.
The disproportionate white jury picked up the case at noon on Tuesday.
Shortly after returning to court Wednesday morning, the jury sent the judge a note asking the judge to watch two versions of the footage — the original and the one investigators developed to reduce the shadows — three times.
The jurors returned to the courtroom to watch the videos and replay the 911 call that one of the defendants made from the bed of a pickup truck about 30 seconds before the shooting.
On the 911 call that the jury reviewed, Greg McMichael told an operator: “I’m here on Satilla Shores. There’s a Black male running down the street.”
Then, as Arbery ran towards McMichael’s idling truck with Bryan’s truck behind him, he began shouting: “Stop there! Damn it, stop! Travis!” After a few seconds, gunshots can be heard.
The graphic video emerged two months later, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case and quickly arrested the three men.
Defense attorneys allege that McMichaels attempted to arrest a legitimate citizen when they set off after Arbery, arresting and interrogating him after he was seen running from a nearby house under construction.
Travis McMichael said he shot Arbery in self-defense. He said Arbery turned and attacked with his fists as he ran past the truck where McMichael was standing with the shotgun.
Arbery had enrolled in a technical college at the time of his death and was preparing to study to become an electrician like his uncles.
Shaun Seals, 32, from Brunswick, rushed to the courthouse to join the crowd applauding the decision.
“We went out to witness history,” said Seals, who pushed her 10-month-old daughter into the stroller.
The Seals, who are Black, described the convictions as a victory not only for their society but for the nation.
“It won’t heal many of the wounds,” he said, coming from a long history of inequality. “But it’s a start and shows that people are trying.”