The jury in the trial of three white men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery (pictured) has reached a verdict
All three defendants in the Ahmaud Arbery trial were found guilty of murdering the black jogger in February 2020.
Gunman Travis McMichael was found guilty on the charge of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit a felony.
As McMichael’s first guilty verdict was read out, Arbery’s father, Marcus Arbery, yelled out ‘Woohoo!,’ briefly delaying the reading of the other verdicts as he was removed from the courtroom.
His mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, she sobbed aloud as the first verdict was read: ‘Oh!’ Her head sunk into her chest as she wept, with civil rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton gripping her hand.
McMichael’s father, Gregory McMichael, was also convicted of murder.
The conviction carries a minimum sentence of life in prison. It is up to the judge to decide whether that comes with or without the possibility of parole.
Neighbor William ‘Roddie’ Bryan was found guilty of felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit a felony.
He was found not guilty of malice murder and one count each of felony murder and aggravated assault.
‘It’s been a long fight, it’s been a hard fight but God is good,’ Cooper-Jones told reporters outside the courthouse.
‘To tell you the truth I never saw this day back in 2020. I never thought this day would come but God is good. I just wanted to tell everybody thank you, thank you, for those who marched, those who prayed. Thank you God.
Adopting her son’s nickname since boyhood, she added: ‘You know him as Ahmaud, I know him as Quez, he will now rest in peace. ‘
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Marcus Arbery in a civil proceeding, said in a statement to DailyMail.com: ‘Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. After nearly two years of pain, suffering, and wondering if Ahmaud’s killers would be held to account, the Arbery family finally has some justice.
‘Nothing will bring back Ahmaud, but his family will have some peace knowing the men who killed him will remain behind bars and can never inflict their brand of evil on another innocent soul. While today is not one for celebration, it is one for reflection.’
Travis McMichael, looking red-faced, turned as he stood to leave the courtroom and mouthed ‘love you’ to his mother, Leigh.
‘I’m floored, floored with a capital ‘F,” Laura Hogue, one of Gregory McMichael’s lawyers, said in the courtroom.
Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley, who presided over the trial for their state charges, has not yet set a sentencing date for the three men.
In Georgia, a person convicted of either malice murder or felony murder can face life in prison with or without parole, or the death penalty.
The three men have also been indicted on separate federal hate crime charges, including interference with rights and attempted kidnapping. The McMichaels were also charged with using, carrying, brandishing and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. All three men pleaded not guilty.
The federal trial is set to take place in February. If convicted, they could each face an additional penalty of up to life in prison. Since the defendants were being held on state charges, a federal bond hearing has not been set.
Gunman Travis McMichael (pictured Wednesday with his attorney) was found guilty on the charge of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit a felony
Gregory McMichael (right, pictured Wednesday with his attorneys) was found guilty of felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit a felony. He was found not guilty of malice murder (Judge Timothy Walmsley on left)
Neighbor William ‘Roddie’ Bryan (pictured in court Wednesday) was found guilty of felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit a felony. He was found not guilty of malice murder and one count each of felony murder and aggravated assault
The Arbery family spoke outside the Glynn County courthouse after the guilty verdicts were read aloud
Three white men guilty of Ahmaud Arbery faced 27 charges between them – this is what each of them mean
COUNT 1 – MALICE MURDER
This is defined as causing a person’s death with deliberate intention without provocation and ‘where all the circumstances in the killing show an abandoned and malignant heart’. It is punishable by death or life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Travis McMichael – Guilty
Gregory McMichael – Not guilty
William ‘Roddie’ Bryan – Not guilty
COUNTS 2, 3, 4 AND 5 – FELONY MURDER
This applies when a death is caused in the course of committing another felony whether or not the killing was intentional or unprovoked. The punishment is life in prison or death.
Travis McMichael – Guilty on all counts
Gregory McMichael – Guilty on all counts
William ‘Roddie’ Bryan – Guilty on three counts, not guilty on one counts
COUNT 6 and 7 – AGGRAVATED ASSAULT
Under Georgia law this is an assault using a deadly weapon. Count six refers to the shotgun used, count 7 refers to the two pickup trucks, driven by Gregory McMichael and William ‘Roddy’ Bryan, used to box Arbery in.
Travis McMichael – Guilty
Gregory McMichael – Not guilty on count 6; Guilty on count 7
William ‘Roddie’ Bryan – Not guilty on count 6; Guilty on count 7
COUNT 8 – FALSE IMPRISONMENT
This is when a person ‘arrests, confines, or detains’ another person without legal authority.
Travis McMichael – Guilty
Gregory McMichael – Guilty
William ‘Roddie’ Bryan – Guilty
COUNT 9 – CRIMINAL INTENT TO COMMIT A FELONY
This refers to performing ‘any act which constitutes a substantial step’ toward the intentional commission of a crime
Travis McMichael – Guilty
Gregory McMichael – Guilty
William ‘Roddie’ Bryan – Guilty
After the verdicts were read out, Arbery’s family watched the verdicts from an overflow room beside the court, saying they ‘finally have some justice’.
They clapped and cried out as jurors returned their verdicts before the trio were remanded in custody ahead of sentencing.
Yvon Arbery, 57, the deceased’s aunt told DailyMail.com: ‘It’s just so much joy. I feel so much satisfaction, thank you God. This is going to bring big change to Brunswick, Georgia and the rest of the country. It will show everybody know that you cannot have this hatred in your heart and you cannot get away with this anymore.’
Outside the courthouse, a crowd of more than 100 people huddled around a loudspeaker in hushed silence to hear proceedings over a livestream.
A huge roar erupted as each guilty verdict rang out, with bystanders raising their fists in solidarity with the dead black man.
Others waved aloft Black Lives Matters flags and hugged one another in celebration, relieved and jubilant that jurors had decided the racially-charged case in the Arbery family’s favor.
As it became clear the trio were guilty of the majority of charges the cheers gave way to repeated chants of ‘say his name’, ‘enough is enough’ and ‘Ahmaud Arbery, Ahmaud Arbery’.
Father and son Gregory, 65, and Travis McMichael, 35, grabbed guns and jumped in a pickup truck to pursue the 25-year-old black jogger after seeing him running in the coastal suburb of Satilla Shores on Feb. 23, 2020.
Their neighbor William ‘Roddie’ Bryan, 52, joined the pursuit in his own pickup and recorded cellphone video of Travis McMichael fatally shooting Arbery.
Leah Baker, 52, a Brunswick resident, said: ‘I’m so thankful, I’m grateful – this is most definitely the right verdict.
‘Because of the legacy of slavery, of history, of the Trayvon Martin case, I was worried they would create enough doubt with the self defense thing. We are a small city and we have made nationwide history in the cause of black people and equality.’
‘This case, by all accounts, should have been opened and closed…the violent stalking and lynching of Ahmaud Arbery was documented on video for the world to witness. But yet, because of the deep cracks, flaws, and biases in our systems, we were left to wonder if we would ever see justice,’ said Crump.
‘Today certainly indicates progress, but we are nowhere close to the finish line. America, you raised your voices for Ahmaud. Now is not the time to let them quiet. Keep marching. Keep fighting for what is right. And never stop running for Ahmaud.’
President Joe Biden also issued a statement following the verdicts, saying Arbery’s killing was a ‘devastating reminder of how far we have to go in the fight for racial justice’ in America.
‘Mr. Arbery should be here today, celebrating the holidays with his mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, and his father, Marcus Arbery. Nothing can bring Mr. Arbery back to his family and to his community, but the verdict ensures that those who committed this horrible crime will be punished,’ Biden said.
‘While the guilty verdicts reflect our justice system doing its job, that alone is not enough. Instead, we must recommit ourselves to building a future of unity and shared strength, where no one fears violence because of the color of their skin.
‘My administration will continue to do the hard work to ensure that equal justice under law is not just a phrase emblazoned in stone above the Supreme Court, but a reality for all Americans.’
After being sworn in more than two weeks ago, the disproportionately white jury heard from more than two dozen witnesses – including gunman Travis McMichael, the only defendant to take the witness stand – and was presented with evidence photos, police body camera video, autopsy reports and more.
The McMichaels told police they suspected Arbery was a fleeing burglar when they armed themselves and jumped in a pickup truck to chase him.
Bryan joined the pursuit when they passed his house and recorded cellphone video of Travis McMichael blasting Arbery at close range with a shotgun as Arbery threw punches and grabbed for the weapon.
Outside the Georgia courthouse, demonstrators were seen cheering, crying and celebrating the verdict
Protestors, civil rights leaders and pastors from across the nation have assembled in Glynn County throughout the duration of the trial, pushing for justice for Arbery and offering support to his family
People react after the jury reached a guilty verdict in the trial of William ‘Roddie’ Bryan, Travis McMichael and Gregory McMichael
Prosecution vs. Defense: The arguments in Ahmaud Arbery’s murder trial
Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael and William Bryan are all charged with malice and felony murder in the February 2020 shooting death of black jogger Ahmaud Arbery.
The McMichaels armed themselves and jumped in a pickup truck to pursue Arbery after he ran past their home from a nearby house under construction.
Their neighbor, Bryan, joined the chase in his own truck, telling police that he tried to run Arbery off the road and then recorded cellphone video as Travis McMichael fired three shotgun blasts before Arbery fell facedown in the street.
The defendants also face charges of aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit a felony.
During the trial, the prosecution aimed to prove that the defendants wrongly assumed the worst about Arbery.
The state also sought to rebut arguments that the defendants were attempting a valid citizen’s arrest, which required that someone have ‘reasonable and probable’ suspicion that a person is fleeing a serious crime they committed.
The defense argues that Travis McMichael shot Arbery three times in self-defense, as the McMichaels and Bryan attempted to conduct a citizen’s arrest of Arbery under their suspicion that he committed a burglary at a nearby property.
They also argued that the chasing of Arbery was justified under Georgia’s 19th-century citizen’s arrest law that was repealed after an outcry over the killing.
During the trial, the prosecution aimed to prove the defendants wrongly assumed the worst about Arbery and sought to rebut arguments that they were attempting a valid citizen’s arrest, which required that someone have ‘reasonable and probable’ suspicion that a person is fleeing a serious crime they committed.
‘They made their decision to attack Ahmaud Arbery in their driveways because he was a black man running down the street,’ Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski said during her closing arguments.
They killed him ‘not because he’s a threat to them, but because he wouldn’t stop and talk to them,’ she alleged.
The state claimed there was no evidence Arbery had committed crimes in the defendants’ neighborhood.
Defense attorneys contend the McMichaels were attempting a legal citizen’s arrest when they set off after Arbery, seeking to detain and question him as a suspected burglar after he was seen running from a nearby home under construction.
Travis McMichael testified that he shot Arbery in self-defense, saying the running man turned and attacked with his fists while running past the idling truck where Travis McMichael stood with his shotgun.
Defense attorney, Jason Sheffield, said his client had ‘reasonable and probable grounds of suspicion’ to follow the 25-year-old in his truck because he believed he was a burglar.
He added that although Arbery was not armed with a weapon, Travis McMichael said he had reached into his shirt as if for a weapon, and he was also armed with his fists.
‘Travis felt something is not right…Aggravated assault is a felony that can be committed by the use of fists. Fists are a weapon. And right now as Ahmaud Arbery is running towards Travis McMichael he could have a gun and he definitely has fists,’ Sheffield said.
On a 911 call the jury reviewed on day two of deliberations, Gregory McMichael told an operator: ‘I’m out here in Satilla Shores. There’s a black male running down the street.’
He then starts shouting, apparently as Arbery is running toward the McMichael’s idling truck with Bryan’s truck coming up behind him: ‘Stop right there! Damn it, stop! Travis!’
Gunshots can be heard a few second later.
Arbery’s killing became part of a larger national reckoning on racial injustice after the graphic video of his death leaked online two months later and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case, quickly arresting the three men. Each of them is charged with murder and other crimes.
A nearly all-white jury was selected, and one of the defense lawyers – Kevin Gough – repeatedly, but unsuccessfully, sought the removal of black pastors and civil rights leaders including the Rev. Jesse Jackson from the courtroom.
Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley said he was required to accept the ‘race-neutral’ reasons defense lawyers gave for the removal of all but one potential black juror.
Black activists said it showed again how the justice system was skewed against black Americans.
Three white men were convicted of murder on Wednesday for chasing and shooting Ahmaud Arbery as he ran in their Georgia neighborhood last year. The jury rejected their self-defense claim
Prosecutors allege jury in Arbery trial is ‘disproportionately white’
Prosecutors claim the jury seated for Ahmaud Arbery’s murder trial is disproportionately white.
Of the 12 members, one juror is black while the other 11 are white.
Defense lawyers struck all but one black person from the jury panel, drawn from a county where about a quarter of residents are black, but told the court the strikes were for reasons that had nothing to do with race.
Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley previously said he found that ‘intentional discrimination’ by defense attorneys appeared to have shaped jury selection, but argued Georgia law limited his authority to intervene.
He also alleged that the defense had race-neutral arguments for dismissing those potential jurors.
‘They have been able to explain to the court why besides race those individuals were struck from the panel,’ Walmsley said.
Summons were sent to 1,000 potential jurors and attorneys questioned these individuals for more than two weeks before selecting the current panel.
Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, arrived at the courthouse Wednesday accompanied by high profile supporters including civil rights attorney Ben Crump and the Rev. Al Sharpton who took turns to demand jurors find the jogger’s alleged white killers guilty.
‘You see the defense lawyer talk about his long legs and his dirty toenails almost as if he’s like a runaway slave and that they are chasing him,’ said Crump.
‘They capture him and then they kill him. And the only question that remains is, is this jury going to give us a Jim Crow verdict? Or are they going to say in 2021 America we must be better than this?’
Crump, who has previously represented the families of George Floyd and Michael Brown, said Arbery did nothing to provoke Gregory McMichael, 65, his gunman son Travis McMichael, 35, and their neighbor William ‘Roddy’ Brian, 52, before the fatal chase in February last year.
All three have pleaded not guilty to one count of malice murder, four of felony murder, two of aggravated assault, one of false imprisonment and one of criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.
Cooper-Jones uttered a few brief words as she left the court with her legal team just after midday to take a lunch break. She told a well-wisher: ‘I’m doing good’.
Asked how her heart was, the anguished mom simply added: ‘Heavy’.
‘It harkens back to a Jim Crow-era type killing,’ Crump added. ‘You have a young black man who is minding his business and then ordinary white citizens suspect that they believe he’s done something criminal.
‘And instead of calling the police, instead of giving him his due process, they go out and they take the law into their own hands.’
Crump likened 25-year-old Arbery’s alleged ‘lynching’ to the killing of Trayvon Martin but he said that video evidence here should ensure the trio cannot successfully claim self-defense as George Zimmerman did in 2012.
‘We have a visual of everything that happened as he [Arbery] ran for his life. And I think that sets us apart because we literally see a young black man get lynched in broad daylight and 2020,’ Crump added.
‘If America can condone this, then all parents who have children of color, we can’t protect them and we can’t depend on the law to hold people accountable.
‘I looked at that video as a lawyer that then I looked at it as a black man who’s a parent of black children. And I said that we have to get justice in this matter. We have to get justice.’
The above map shows Ahmaud Arbery’s approximate path and locations of the events that occurred on February 23, 2020
In the video recorded by Bryan, Arbery can be seen trying to wrestle a shotgun from Travis McMichael’s hands
Crump (far right) and the Rev. Al Sharpton (pictured Wednesday with Wanda Cooper-Jones on his left and Marcus Arbery on his right) took turns to demand jurors find the jogger’s alleged white killers guilty
Demonstrators have assembled outside the court, demanding justice for the slain 25-year-old
Protestors hold a towel that reads ’21st Century Lynching Cover-Up’ in front of the Glen County Magistrate Court in Brunswick, Georgia as deliberations continue Wednesday