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3 Georgia men convicted of Ahmaud Arbery's murder

Arbery Trial suspects
Posted at 7:43 AM, Nov 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-24 15:36:34-05

Three white men implicated in the February 2020 shooting death of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man, have been convicted of murder charges in a Brunswick, Georgia, court.

The jury returned the verdict Wednesday, the second day of deliberations.

Travis McMichael, the man who pulled the trigger, was found guilty of all nine charges he faced — malice murder, four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, false imprisonment and an attempt to commit false imprisonment.

McMichael's father, Greg McMichael, was acquitted on charges of malice murder but found guilty on four charges of felony murder and other lesser charges.

The McMichaels' neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan, was also found guilty of multiple felony murder charges.

As news of the conviction left the courthouse, Black Lives Matter activists gathered outside broke into celebration. Those gathered repeated chants of Arbery's name, "no justice, no peace" and "Black lives, they matter here."

Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, spoke to the media shortly after the verdict was read.

"It's been a long fight, it's been a hard fight, but God is good.," she said. "I never thought this day would come, but God is good."

Ahmaud Arbery's mother speaks after guilty verdicts are announced

Attorney Ben Crump, who has represented the families of slain black men and women in high-profile cases across the country, also spoke Wednesday.

"The spirit of Ahmaud defeated the lynch mob," he said.

The Rev. Al Sharpton also spoke following the verdict, which came on the eve of Thanksgiving.

"We've never had a Thanksgiving day like today," Sharpton said.

The three men chased Arbery down a Brunswick, Georgia, street on Feb. 23, 2020, after they spotted him running in their neighborhood.

Arbery had briefly stopped inside a home in the neighborhood that was under construction. The McMichaels armed themselves and chased after him, believing him to be responsible for a series of break-ins in the area.

Video from the incident showed the McMichaels drive up beside Arbery. A struggle followed for a few moments before Travis McMichael fired his gun, and Arbery stumbled to the ground.

The defense had argued that the men were lawfully allowed to pursue Arbery thanks to a since-repealed citizen's arrest law. They also argued that Travis McMichael only fired his gun after a "violent encounter" with Arbery.

On Tuesday, prosecutors closed their case by arguing that three men were not justified to take Arbery into custody on the citizens' arrest law.

"When three people chase an unarmed man in two pickup trucks to violate his personal liberty, who gets to claim, 'I'm not really responsible for that?' Under the law in Georgia, no one gets to say that," lead prosecutor Linda Dunikoski said.

Earlier in the day Wednesday, jurors asked the court to review videos and 911 calls taken the day of the shooting that led to Arbery's death.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and CNN report that jurors asked for and were granted permission to rewatch two videos that show the fatal shooting. They also re-listened to a recording of a 911 call that was placed by one of the suspects, Greg McMichael, in the moments before Arbery was shot.

Jurors spent a total of six hours in deliberation on Tuesday and about five hours in deliberation on Wednesday.

In a statement, President Joe Biden offered condolences to Cooper Jones and Arbery's father, Marcus Arbery.

"Nothing can bring Mr. Arbery back to his family and to his community, but the verdict ensures that those who committed this horrible crime will be punished," the statement read.

"While the guilty verdicts reflect our justice system doing its job, that alone is not enough. Instead, we must recommit ourselves to building a future of unity and shared strength, where no one fears violence because of the color of their skin," the statement continued. "My administration will continue to do the hard work to ensure that equal justice under law is not just a phrase emblazoned in stone above the Supreme Court, but a reality for all Americans.

Vice President Kamala Harris also released a statement, saying "these verdicts send an important message," but there is still work to do.

"The defense counsel chose to set a tone that cast the attendance of ministers at the trial as intimidation and dehumanized a young Black man with racist tropes. The jury arrived at its verdicts despite these tactics," wrote Harris.

She added, "Ahmaud Arbery was a son. He was a brother. He was a friend. His life had meaning. We will not forget him. We honor him best by continuing the fight for justice."