When Travis McMichael was found guilty of murder, Arbery’s father, Marcus Arbery snr, released a “smart atrocity”, said his lawyer Ben Crump, which led the judge to remove him from the courtroom.
“He could not hold it back any longer because think of how long he and Wanda have endured all the insinuations, all the accusations, all the character murders,” Crump said.
Arbery’s parents fought for him and were “an example of how to deal with tragedy and grief,” Crump said, reminding the crowd that even as they celebrated the verdict, Arbery’s parents were devastated by his death.
“While this is not a celebration, it is a reflection to acknowledge that Ahmaud’s spirit defeated the lynch mob,” Crump said.
Marcus Arbery thanked God, his family and the family’s followers and said he did not want to see any other father have to live through what he lived through. But as he reflected on the verdict, he said, “Today is a good day.”
The verdict was handed down on Thursday by the jury, consisting of a black man and 11 white men and women, after about two weeks of trial in the coastal town of Brunswick in a case involving whether the defendants had the right to confront the unarmed 25-year-old eager jogger last year. that he fled from a crime.
Jury members ruled on the second day of the deliberations.
There was never any dispute that the younger McMichael fired his shotgun three times at Arbery up close on February 23, 2020, in the suburban community of Satilla Shores.
It was captured on a graphic phone video made by Bryan, arousing outrage when it appeared more than two months later and the public was informed that none of the three men had been arrested.
Lawyers for McMichaels claimed that the murder was justified after Arbery ran past McMichael’s driveway in a neighborhood that had experienced a number of property thefts.
Both McMichaels grabbed their weapons and jumped in their pickup in the chase, with Bryan, unarmed, joining moments later.
The prosecutor said the defendants had “assumed the worst” about a black man out on a jogging trip on Sunday afternoon. He was chased by the accused for about five minutes around the winding streets.
The verdict follows a jury’s acquittal on November 19 in another closely guarded trial against a named 18-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse who fatally shot two men during racial protests in Wisconsin.
Both cases highlighted the broader issue of American gun violence that President Joe Biden has called a “international embarrassment”. In both, the defendants claimed self-defense.
The three men are facing a federal trial next year on charges of hate crimes, accused in a charge of violating Arbery’s civil rights by initiating the fatal hunt because of his “race and color”.
Some black Americans used a desperate phrase to describe a case seen as another example of black people falling into suspicion while innocently performing an everyday activity: “running while they are black.”
Arbery’s name was added to those cited in nationwide anti-racism protests in 2020 that erupted after the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, both of whom were black.
The indictment was widely seen as another test case in how the US legal system handles cases of unarmed black people killed by white people. During the trial, almost no evidence or discussion of race was presented as a motive.
The question of race hung over the trial. An almost all-white jury was selected, and one of the defense attorneys repeatedly sought, but without success, that black pastors and civil rights leaders, including Pastor Jesse Jackson, be removed from the courtroom.
Supreme Court Justice Timothy Walmsley said he was obliged to accept the “racially neutral” reasons given by defense attorneys to remove all but one potential black jury member. Black activists said it once again showed how the justice system was skewed against black Americans.
Defense attorneys cited a law in Georgia that was codified during the 19th century American Civil War that made it possible for anyone to arrest someone they have reasonable suspicion of escaping from a serious crime they committed. The law was repealed in the wake of Arbery’s killing.
The older McMichael’s lawyer, Laura Hogue, told jurors that the defendants were guilty of capturing Arbery, whom she portrayed as a terrifying burglar with “long dirty toenails”, using a description from the autopsy report.
Leading prosecutor Linda Dunikoski apologized to the defense for “slandering the victim” and calling it “offensive.”
No evidence has ever emerged linking Arbery to any Satilla Shore thefts.
Travis McMichael, a former U.S. Coast Guard mechanic and the only defendant to testify, testified tearfully that he fired in self-defense when Arbery grabbed the shotgun he was carrying while chasing him in the truck.
During cross-examination by a prosecutor, he admitted that he told police hours after the shooting that he could not say for sure if Arbery actually took the gun.