November 27, 2021

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Ahmaud Arbery was shot twice by shotgun, medical examiner testifies; jurors shown autopsy photos – USA TODAY

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BRUNSWICK, Ga. — The medical examiner who performed the autopsy on Ahmaud Arbery told jurors Tuesday that he was shot twice and could have been grabbing the shotgun or pushing it away when he was killed in February 2020.

Prosecutors showed graphic photos of Arbery’s autopsy as Edmund R. Donoghue, a forensic pathologist at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, testified Tuesday in the murder trial of three white men charged with murder in the death of Arbery, who was Black.

Donoghue concluded that Arbery died from multiple shotgun wounds to the chest, wrist and armpit. The wounds could have been fatal on their own and there was nothing first responders could have done to save Arbery’s life, he said. 

Donoghue told prosecutors he could not determine the order the shots were fired based solely on his autopsy. But after reviewing the video of the homicide, he said he believed Arbery’s hand was in front of his chest when the first shot grazed his wrist, entered his chest, and broke multiple ribs. 

Dr. Edmund R. Donoghue, right, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation forensic pathology specialist, examines shotgun pellets entered into evidence during the trial of Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan in the Glynn County courthouse in Brunswick, Georgia.

The next shot fired missed Arbery, but the third shot struck him near his armpit, paralyzing his left arm and breaking several bones.

The cell phone video, filmed by defendant William “Roddie” Bryan, showed a struggle between Arbery and defendant Travis McMichael, who fired the shots.

Donoghue told prosecutor Linda Dunikoski the injury between Arbery’s thumb and pinky could be consistent with someone pushing the shotgun away or grabbing it.

Previously:Defense attorney fails to get Rev. Jesse Jackson removed from courtroom 

More:Rittenhouse case, Arbery death trial reflect deepening political and racial divides

During cross-examination, defense attorney Bob Rubin asked Donoghue if Arbery was able to fight back after being shot in the wrist and chest. Donoghue agreed the injuries did not prevent Arbery from hitting Travis McMichael, and that Arbery was likely experiencing adrenaline as part of a flight or fight response. 

When Rubin asked what Arbery could have been afraid of, Donoghue replied: “Well, there was a man with a shotgun and men chasing him in a pickup.”

Prosecutors on Tuesday again showed jurors cell phone video of the shooting, and Donoghue said the sprays of blood seen in the footage were likely coming from the wound in Arbery’s wrist.

Jurors also saw photos of abrasions on Arbery’s face, arms and hands that Donoghue said were consistent with an “unguarded fall,” when a person loses consciousness and falls to the ground.

Arbery’s mom, Wanda Cooper Jones, left the courtroom as the graphic autopsy photos were shown. During a break, defense attorney Laura Hogue hugged Leigh McMichael, Greg’s wife and Travis’ mom, who appeared to be wiping tears.

Prosecutors have called about 20 witnesses to testify over the course of eight days in the trial of father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael and their neighbor Bryan. The men were arrested and charged with murder and other crimes two months after Arbery was killed on Feb. 23, 2020.

Defense attorneys say the three men chased Arbery in pickup trucks to detain him for police and that Travis shot him in self-defense. Prosecutors say Arbery was under attack by men who had no way of knowing if he had committed a crime.

Jurors on Tuesday also heard from GBI agents David Bryan Smith and Richard Dial and crime scene specialist Jessica Hamilton.

Smith digitally mapped Satilla Shores and used drones to take videos and photos of the neighborhood. Hamilton canvassed neighborhoods after the shooting, transported evidence and photographed the defendant’s vehicles.

Dial took out arrest warrants for Greg and Travis McMichael after the GBI became involved in the investigation in May 2020. Prosecutors showed jurors maps of key locations in the case and the path taken by Arbery, Bryan and the McMichaels on the day of the shooting as Dial testified about his role in the investigation.

The testimony comes a day after the judge denied a defense attorney’s motion for a mistrial over the presence of civil rights leaders including Jesse Jackson in the courtroom.Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents Jason Seacrist and Lawrence Kelly, Leppard, microanalyst Anne Kisler-Rao, and latent print examiner Jesse Worley also testified Monday.

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