Their own words may have condemned men who killed Ahmaud Arbery

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The video of Ahmaud Arbery’s death with a shotgun was a shocking proof that suddenly brought the killing of the black man into the national consciousness.

But murder convictions of the three white men who chased him may have been secured just as much by their own words to the investigators on the day of the shooting.

Greg McMichael, who was lying in bed on a truck when his son killed Arbery, told the black man police “was trapped like a rat” and he said to Arbery: “Stop, or I’ll blow off your f — ing head!”

Such statements made it possible for prosecutors to provide context for the short video that did not show the entire shooting and which had some of the five minutes the men chased Arbery.

“It was these statements that screwed up the defense more than the video. If they had never talked to the police and they said we saw him take something from the property and run – it’s an okay shot that the jury may have acquitted them,” prosecutor Andrew Fleischman said. who followed the trial from Atlanta.

VAD DE SA:

Sagittarius, Travis McMichael, his father, Greg McMichael and neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan everyone spoke diligently and sincerely with the Glynn County investigators just hours after Arbery was killed in their neighborhood in Brunswick, Georgia, in February 2020.

They told the police that they were not sure exactly what Arbery had done wrong, which would later be a major blow to their defense that they arrested a citizen.

The laws on civil arrest, which were largely repealed by legislators after Arbery’s death, required a person to see or have immediate knowledge of a crime being committed or to have reasonable suspicion that someone is fleeing a serious crime to justify a citizen’s arrest.

“I do not think the guy actually stole anything from there, or if he did, it was early in the process. But he keeps going back and forth to this fucking house,” says Greg McMichael, according to a transcript of the interview that Glynn County Police Officer Sgt. Roderic Nohilly read in court.

Bryan was on his porch when he saw Arbery run past with McMichael’s truck close behind. He told police he did not recognize any of them, or knew what prompted the chase, but still agreed after shouting, “Do you have him?”

In an interview with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Bryan said he wanted to take a photo of Arbery to show police, but he could not point to any crimes Arbery had committed.

“I thought he had done something wrong,” Bryan said. “I did not know for sure.”

The statements made it possible for prosecutor Linda Dunikoski to methodically dismantle the defense’s arguments.

“Nobody talked about a citizen’s arrest. And I do not mean to use the magic words ‘citizen’s arrest.’ because he committed this crime ‘, said Atlanta defense attorney Page Pate.

DEFENSE GOALS

That left the lawyers for the men to struggle to explain delete their statements.

“The evidence suggests that Roddie Bryan is legitimately struggling to find the right words,” Bryan’s lawyer, Kevin Gough, told the jury members in their closing argument on Monday.

Travis McMichael, testified in his own defense, said he was in shock when he first spoke to police and called the shooting the most traumatic event of his life.

Greg McMichael’s lawyer suggested that he might never shout at Arbery: “Stop, otherwise I’ll blow you away” as he told police because the remark was not recorded on the mobile video from the shooting or the 911 call. Greg McMichael was sent to the police. Both of these recordings covered only a small part of the five-minute hunt that ended with Arbery’s death.

“You only have a handful of defenses to deal with what’s basically a confession,” Pate said.

FEEL THE FACE

Greg McMichael was a former investigator at the Glynn County District Attorney’s Office and may have felt he could navigate problems among his acquaintances and friends.

It worked for a while. The men were not charged for more than two months – only after the video of the shooting appeared and the case was handed over to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. State agents prosecuted the men two days later.

“This is just a case of a client who spoke out of trouble and these statements later proved to bring him back into it,” Fleischman said.

Phone records show that Greg McMichael called his former boss, District Attorney Jackie Johnson, shortly after the shooting. Johnson handed the case over to an out-of-town prosecutor, who cited the citizen’s detention law when he recommended no prosecution. A third prosecutor investigated the case when the video appeared and handed it over to the state.

Johnson was prosecuted on a gross charge of violating her oath and misdemeanor for obstructing the police for her role in the investigation. Authorities have released little information about Johnson’s actions other than to say that she never revealed that she asked the other prosecutor to advise the police immediately after the murder of Arbery.

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Jeffrey Collins contributed to this report.

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