BRUNSWICK, Ga. — Jurors began their deliberations Tuesday morning in the trial of three white men facing charges in the death of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man killed while jogging in February 2020.
Prosecutors, who have the burden of proving their case beyond a reasonable doubt, made their final arguments Tuesday ahead of deliberations. Father and son Greg and Travis McMichael and their neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, all face murder charges in the deadly shooting in Satilla Hills.
Update 6:35 p.m. EST Nov. 23: Jurors deliberated about six hours on Tuesday without reaching a verdict before breaking for the night.
The jury will reconvene at 8:30 a.m. EST Wednesday.
Update 3:10 p.m. EST Nov. 23: Jurors on Tuesday worked through lunch after getting the case against the McMichaels and Bryan just before noon, CNN reported, citing comments made by the court’s bailiff to a pool producer.
Update 11:35 a.m. EST Nov. 23: Jurors began their deliberations Tuesday morning after hearing instructions from Judge Timothy Walmsley. The instructions outline Georgia law and the charges the jury is to consider against the McMichaels and Bryan.
Defense attorneys said the defendants were trying to hold Arbery on a citizen’s arrest on the suspicion that he had burglarized a home under construction in the neighborhood when the deadly shooting occurred on Feb. 23, 2020. Prosecutors argued that under Georgia law, the defendants had no right to hold Arbery and that they chased, cornered and killed him based on assumptions about why he was in the neighborhood.
According to WJAX-TV, the defendants each face:
- One count of malice murder
- Four counts of felony murder
- Two counts of aggravated assault
- One count of false imprisonment
- One count of criminal attempt to commit a felony
They have pleaded not guilty.
Update 11:10 a.m. EST Nov. 23: Judge Timothy Walmsley began reading jurors instructions on the charges to consider against the McMichaels and Bryan ahead of deliberations Tuesday morning. The defendants face charges including malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault and false imprisonment in connection to the deadly shooting on Feb. 23, 2020.
Update 10:37 a.m. EST Nov. 23: The court went into a brief recess Tuesday morning after prosecutors ended their rebuttal argument in the trial of three men charged in Arbery’s death.
Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski asked jurors to find the McMichaels and Bryan guilty, arguing that they had no right to perform a citizen’s arrest on Arbery. Defense attorneys have argued that the defendants were trying to hold Arbery for police on the suspicion that he burglarized a home under construction in the neighborhood.
She said Tuesday that the defendants had heard about the possibility that Arbery had burglarized the home through people in the neighborhood and that they had not witnessed the crime themselves.
“You can’t base your citizen’s arrest on that sort of stale information from unreliable sources. That’s not where you can do, okay? You can’t base and arrest on gossip alone,” she said. “Facebook does not alone give you probable cause to go arrest somebody. Rumors in the neighborhood do not give you probable cause alone to go and arrest somebody.”
Jurors are expected to begin deliberations in the case later Tuesday.
Original report: On Monday, prosecutors and defense attorneys painted different pictures of the encounter between Arbery and the defendants as they delivered their closing arguments.
Prosecutors said Arbery was unarmed and under attack by men who chased after him in their pickup trucks, WJAX-TV reported. Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski told jurors that the McMichaels and Bryan made “driveway decisions” that led to Arbery’s death, according to WSB-TV.
“They shot and killed him not because he was a threat, but because he wouldn’t stop and talk to them,” she said.
Defense attorneys said the defendants were trying to hold Arbery on a citizen’s arrest under the suspicion that he had burglarized a home under construction in the neighborhood. They said Travis McMichael opened fire, killing Arbery, in self-defense after the 25-year-old charged at him and tried to grab his shotgun, The Associated Press reported.
On Monday, Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, left the courtroom after Linda Hogue, an attorney representing George McMichael said that “turning Ahmaud Arbery into a victim after the choices that he made does not reflect the reality of what brought Ahmaud Arbery to Satilla Shores in his khaki shorts with no socks to cover his long, dirty toenails,” according to The Washington Post. The description of Arbery’s toenails came from the autopsy report, Reuters reported.
Speaking on the courthouse steps, Cooper-Jones criticized Hogue’s description of her son, according to WSB.
“That was just beyond rude regardless of what size toenails he had. What size legs he had,” she said. “That was still my son and my son was running for his life in that description, and that was just flat out rude.”
Authorities said the McMichaels armed themselves and chased Arbery in a pickup truck on Feb. 23, 2020. Bryan trailed them in his vehicle and recorded video as Travis McMichael fired his shotgun at the 25-year-old, killing him, according to WJAX.
Prosecutors said the McMichaels chased Arbery for five minutes based on assumptions about why the young Black man was running in the neighborhood, NPR reported. They argued that at no time did the McMichaels say they were conducting a citizen’s arrest and that the father and son were in fact unaware of any crime having occurred before the shooting.
Travis McMichael took the stand last week and told jurors that he and his father began to follow Arbery after the elder McMichael spotted him and said that “the guy that’s been breaking in down the road just ran by the house.” He said that he recognized Arbery from a Feb. 11, 2020, encounter outside the home under construction, and that he believed Arbery to be armed at the time because he reached for his waistband. Travis McMichael said he wanted to talk to Arbery on Feb. 23, 2020, and that he repeatedly tried to tell Arbery to stop running.
Authorities brought charges against the McMichaels and Bryan months after the shooting amid public outcry after graphic footage of the deadly shooting appeared online. In September, a grand jury indicted former Glynn County District Attorney Jackie Johnson on charges related to the handling of the case.
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