Juries have reached a verdict in the racially charged, high-profile trial of three white men accused of murdering black jogger Ahmed Arbery in Georgia.
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The defendants — Travis McMichael, his father, Gregory McMichael, and their neighbor William “Roddy” Brian Jr. — are charged with murder, false imprisonment, and other felonies in the shooting of Arbery, 25, who was walking outside their neighborhood. The Georgia port city of Brunswick on February 23, 2020.
Defense lawyers have argued that the three men were trying to make a lawful civilian arrest against Arbery, whom they believed were burglarizing a local under-construction house, when Gregory He was watching them inside it.
The McMichaels jumped into his pickup and started following Arbery. Travis, 35, testified at trial that he tried to “de-escalate” the final confrontation between the three, but was “life-or-death” to shoot Arbery when the man grabbed his gun. was forced to make a decision.
Brian, a neighbor of the McMichaels, helped in the chase and recorded a cellphone video of the chase and shooting.
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Prosecutors said Arbery’s only crime was being black and daring to run away from his attackers.
The defendants “could not claim self-defense under the law because they were the original unjust assailants,” Special Prosecutor Linda Dunnikowski said in the closing arguments.
She said that the men had no right to make a civilian arrest because they did not have knowledge of Arbery’s crime.
“They don’t know what he’s done. They don’t know why he’s running outside. They don’t have immediate knowledge. They don’t have any knowledge. They have speculations because he’s running down the street,” Dunnikowski said.
Jason Sheffield, an attorney for Travis McMichael, argued that while his client “wishes” that the fatal encounter had unfolded differently, this does not mean that his actions that day were not enshrined in law.
“You are permitted to use force that is likely to cause death or grievous bodily injury if you think it is necessary,” he said.
If found guilty of murder charges, the three defendants face a minimum sentence of life imprisonment.