All three men were found guilty of felony murder in the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, NBC News reports.
After 11 hours of deliberation, a majority-white jury convicted Travis McMichael of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and criminal attempt to commit a felony.
Gregory McMichael and William Bryan were acquitted of the top charge but were convicted on four and three of the counts of felony murder.
When the guilty verdict was announced, Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley had an attendee removed from the courtroom as they celebrated the announcement that Travis McMichael was guilty of malice murder.
On the second day of deliberations on Wednesday, jurors reviewed the footage of the fatal interaction along with the 911 call that Gregory McMichael made on the day of the shooting. The jury viewed the original cell phone video and a “high contrast” depiction of the same video approximately three times each while seated in the courtroom. After viewing the videos, they then returned to the jury room.
Central to the defense was the argument that Arberey was a suspect in a burglary and residents in the Satilla Shores subdivision were “on edge.” Although Arbery was filmed on security cameras visiting a home under construction in the neighborhood several times, the footage never shows Arbery taking anything from the property.
Lead prosecutor Linda Dunikoski told the jury that the defendants made a series of “assumptions and driveway decisions” leading to Arbery’s death and that the three men had no “immediate knowledge” that a crime took place. Also, she argued that without the claim of citizen’s arrest, the defendants cannot claim that they acted in self-defense.
“If you determine that this was not a citizen’s arrest, this was not legitimate, he had no probable cause, he can’t do this based on the law, then guess what?” Dunikoski said. “They’re not justified in killing him. They are not justified in any of the felonies they committed against him.”
During the trial, Travis McMichael testified that he shot Arbery after he was “struck.”
“We were face to face. And being struck, that’s when I shot,” he testified. McMichael said he believed he was in “a life-or-death situation.”
Wanda Cooper-Jones, the mother of Ahmaud Arbery, addressed the crowd who gathered outside the courtroom after the verdicts were read. She told the crowd that was gathered that she wanted to thank everyone.
“I just want to say thank you, guys. Thank you. Thank each and every one of you who fought this fight with us. It’s been a long fight. It’s been a hard fight. But God is good,” she said.
Cooper-Jones said, “to tell you the truth, I never thought this day back in 2020.”
“I never thought this day would come. But God is good,” she added. “She concluded by saying that her son can now “rest in peace.”
“You know him as Ahmaud, I know him as ‘Quez,’ he will now rest in peace,” she said
As they await sentencing, all three men now face up to life in prison.
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