BRUNSWICK, Ga. — A jury found three white men guilty of murder and other charges in the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery early last year.
Travis McMichael, who fired the shots, was found guilty on all nine counts, including malice murder and four counts of felony murder.
His father, Gregory McMichael, was found not guilty of malice murder but guilty of felony murder and all other charges.
Their neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, who recorded video of the killing, was found guilty of three counts felony murder, one count aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit a felony. He was not convicted of malice murder, one count of felony murder and one count of aggravated assault.
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In the courtroom, the Rev. Al Sharpton held the hands of Arbery’s parents, Marcus Arbery and Wanda Cooper-Jones, as the jurors entered the courtroom. Cooper-Jones mouthed a silent prayer as the judge readied to read the verdict.
Cheers erupted as the verdicts were read, and people cried and embraced one another. Deputies called for order. Travis McMichael mouthed “love you” to his mother, Leigh McMichael, who was crying.
“I’m floored, floored,” Laura Hogue, one of Gregory McMichael’s lawyers, told Leigh McMichael as she sat in the courtroom gallery. Hogue told reporters she was “very disappointed.” Another attorney for McMichael said they will appeal, which can only begin once sentencing is done.
Attorneys for Travis McMichael declined to comment.
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The courthouse was surrounded by media and supporters holding signs that say “justice for Ahmaud” and bearing the image of him smiling in a baseball cap. The crowd chanted Arbery’s name and “no justice, no peace.”
Cooper-Jones told the group her son “will now rest in peace.”
“It’s been a long fight. It’s been a hard fight. But god is good,” she said. “To tell you the truth, I never saw this day back in 2020. I never thought this day would come. But god is good.”
The three men were charged with murder and other crimes in the fatal shooting on Feb. 23, 2020. They were arrested two months later, after Bryan’s cellphone video of the incident spurred nationwide outrage.
Prosecutors argued Arbery was “under attack” by white men who saw a Black man running in their small, coastal neighborhood and hopped in pickup trucks to pursue him. Arbery committed no crimes and was attempting to flee throughout the five-minute chase, they said.
Defense attorneys for the McMichaels painted a picture of residents on edge about crime in their neighborhood and said the father and son were attempting to detain Arbery for police because they suspected he was a burglar. Bryan’s attorney said he was a witness who documented the killing.
Race was central to the trial from the beginning, with potential jurors being asked their thoughts on Black Lives Matter and the Confederate flag and a defense attorney attempting to bar national civil rights figures like Rev. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson from the courtroom.
One Black man was on the jury of 12, and even the judge acknowledged “intentional discrimination” in the selection process. The demographic makeup of the jury drew scrutiny because it does not mirror Glynn County, where more than 26% of residents are Black.
But the jury did not hear evidence the killing was racially motivated in part because prosecutors did not need to prove the defendants’ actions were racially motivated.
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