A ‘duty’ to chase Ahmaud Arbery? Jury in murder trial hears clashing accounts

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Defendant Gregory McMichael on November 19 in Brunswick, Ga. Watches during his trial at the Glynn County Courthouse.Octavio Jones/Associated Press

A jury heard a duel over whether three white men charged with the murder of Ahmed Arbery had any right to chase and shoot an unarmed black man in their mostly white Georgia neighborhood in closing arguments on Monday.

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Gregory McMichael, 65; her son Travis McMichael, 35; And his neighbor William “Roddy” Bryan, 52, pleaded not guilty to murder, aggravated assault and false imprisonment, saying he did nothing wrong with jumping into pickup trucks to chase Arbery.

Prosecutors said the men “believed the worst” of a 25-year-old black man running near their homes and assaulted him in a five-minute search through Satilla Shores, a Georgia coastal suburb, on February 23, 2020. did.

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In contrast, the elder McMichael’s attorney, Laura Hogg, said the defendants had a duty to apprehend Arbery, whom she portrayed as a sinister thief with “long dirty toenails,” using the autopsy report’s description. .

On that comment, Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, was called “Wow!” was heard saying. As she got up to leave the room.

Chief prosecutor Linda Dunnikowski said the defendants killed an avid Arbery, “not because he was a threat to them, but because he would stop and talk to them.” Arbery had nothing but his jogging clothes and shoes.

“They decided to attack Ahmaud Arbery in his driveway because he was a black man running down the street,” she said, the most direct claim the prosecution has made so far of a racist motivation in which Only race is mentioned before the jury. ,

Little McMichael was the only defendant to take the stand, testifying that he fired his shotgun at Arbery from close range in self-defense, adding that Arbery had grabbed the gun.

In his closing argument, Jason Sheffield, one of McMichael’s lawyers, pointed to the law-enforcement training that McMichael received during his nine years as a U.S. Coast Guard mechanic.

Sheffield showed jurors to Brian’s widely viewed cellphone video, freezing it when Arbery ran towards Travis McMichael, who aimed his shotgun at Arbery.

“There is no doubt that Ahmed has his hands on this gun,” he said. “You are allowed to defend yourself. You are allowed to use force if you think it is necessary that is likely to cause death or serious bodily injury. At the time, Travis believed it was necessary.” “

‘A nice neighborhood’

Danikoski suggested that McMichael lied on the stand, describing his testimony as self-serving and inconsistent with the police’s initial accounts.

McMichael testified that he thought Arbery might be behind the local burglary and saw Arbery 12 days before the shooting outside a nearby empty, half-timbered house after dark.

No evidence ever surfaced that Arbery, who was saving money to return to technical college, took anything on his frequent runs through Satilla Shores. The property’s owner, through a lawyer, said he believed Arbery was stopping to drink from the water tap at the site.

Nevertheless, Hogg argued, Arbery intended to steal in his repeated visits to the construction site at night, which could be prosecuted as theft, even if nothing was taken away. Her argument has at times stunned Arbery’s supporters.

“A handsome teen with a broad smile and a crooked baseball cap could spoil and lose his way,” Hogg said, referring to a photo of Arbery that prosecutors showed jurors. “Years later he can crawl into a house that’s not his own and is on the run.”

The defendants have argued that they had a right to detain Arbery under Georgia’s civil arrest law, which was repealed in the wake of outrage over the murder.

“A good neighborhood is always policing itself,” Hogg said.

Citizen arrest law allows anyone to detain a person if there is a reasonable and probable suspicion that the person is on the run from a serious felony that they have committed.

But trespassing is a misdemeanor, Dunnikowski said, and none of the defendants knew where Arbery was or what he was doing before running down his driveway.

Kevin Gough described his client, Brian, as a simple, unskilled hardware store worker who was one of three men not to grab a gun before following Arbery.

“Roddy Bryan is no vigilante,” Gough said. He invoked the “hand of God” because he argued that Brian was being “directed by divine providence” so that the jury could have the most important evidence in the case: Brian’s cellphone video.

For felony charges, prosecutors do not have to show that anyone intended to kill Arbery. They only need to prove that the men wrongly imprisoned him or attacked him using shotguns and their trucks, and that one of those underlying felonies caused Arbery’s death.

Prosecutors are due to make their final rebuttal on Tuesday before the jury begins deliberations.

Prosecutor Linda Dunnikowski, in her closing arguments that defendants in the Ahmaud Arbery case, wrongly ‘assumed the worst’ about the 25-year-old, said three men decided to attack Ahmaud Arbery in his driveway because he was a Black man running on the street.

Reuters

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