Georgia jury found 3 defendants guilty in the Ahmaud Arbery murder trial

Ahmaud Arbery Georgia Trial
Dozens of Black Lives Matter and Black Panther protesters gather outside the Glynn County Courthouse on November 22, 2021. AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton
  • A Georgia jury found Travis and Gregory McMichael, and William Bryan guilty of murder.
  • The verdict followed hours of deliberation by the jury of 11 white jurors and one Black juror.
  • Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was shot and killed while on a jog in February 2020.

A jury in Glynn County, Georgia, on Wednesday found the defendants in the Ahmaud Arbery murder trial guilty on nearly all charges.

Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was shot and killed on February 23, 2020, while he was out for a jog in the Georgia neighborhood of Satilla Shores near the city of Brunswick, Georgia.

Three men — Travis McMichael, 35, who fired the shot that killed Arbery; his father, Gregory McMichael, 65, a former police officer who with his son trailed and pursued Arbery in a pickup truck; and William Bryan, 52, their neighbor who joined in the chase and filmed the encounter — were months later charged in Arbery’s killing.

The nine counts included malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, and false imprisonment. All three of the men had pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Travis McMichael was the only defendant found guilty on all counts. Gregory McMichael was found guilty on eight of nine counts, and Bryan was found guilty on seven of nine counts.

All three men are white.

Arbery’s killing — along with a video taken of the altercation by Bryan, and the several months it took for local law enforcement to charge and arrest the men — helped fuel the nationwide anti-racism protests across the US last summer after a police officer in Minneapolis murdered George Floyd.

The process to seat the jury in the Arbery case lasted two-and-half weeks and resulted in a jury that included 11 white jurors and just one Black juror, even though about a quarter of the population in Glynn County is Black, as Insider previously reported.

A self-defense argument

In her closing arguments on Monday, prosecutor Linda Dunikoski had argued all three men should be found guilty of the charges, arguing they “made their decision to attack Ahmaud Arbery in their driveways because he was a Black man running down the street.”

Travis McMichael, who was the only defendant to take the stand during the trial, said he fired at Arbery in self-defense after he and his father began pursuing him because they thought he may have been responsible for recent break-ins in their neighborhood.

Travis McMichael.
Travis McMichael in court. Stephen B. Morton/AP

During his testimony, he called the experience of shooting and killing Arbery the most traumatic of his life.

McMichael during his testimony said he confronted Arbery, claiming Arbery grabbed the shotgun he had brought with him. During cross-examination by the prosecutor, McMichael said he never saw Arbery with a gun or heard him say anything before he fatally shot him.

“He was not relenting, so I shot again to stop him,” McMichael said.

As Reuters noted, no evidence has emerged that Arbery was responsible for break-ins in the neighborhood, and at the time of his death, he had nothing on his person besides his clothes and shoes.

Lawyers for the defendants argued they attempted to place Arbery under citizens’ arrest using a since-gutted Civil War-era Georgia law. The law had allowed citizens to detain a person if they had a reasonable belief the individual was fleeing after recently committing a felony. It was repealed in May this year after Arbery’s death, NPR reported.

During closing arguments on Monday, a lawyer for Bryan said his client “did not know” the McMichales were armed when he joined them and filmed the encounter last year, The New York Times reported, in his latest attempt to create distance between his client and the other two defendants.

The three men also face federal hate crime charges the Department of Justice filed in April, though experts previously told Insider it may be difficult for federal prosecutors to get a conviction on those charges.