A lawyer for the men found guilty of murdering Ahmaud Arbery says no ‘single case is a referendum on the justice system in America’

Travis McMichael.
A jury found Travis and Gregory McMichael and William Bryan guilty of murder. Stephen B. Morton/AP
  • A Georgia jury found Travis and Gregory McMichael and William Bryan guilty of murder.
  • An attorney for the McMichaels said they “absolutely” plan to appeal the verdict.
  • Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was shot and killed while on a jog in February 2020.

Attorneys for Gregory and Travis McMichael said they understand the guilty verdicts for their clients in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery were cause for “celebration” for the Arbery family but added that they plan to appeal the decision. 

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, which is near the city of Brunswick, Ga. His death became a rallying cry in police reform and civil rights protests in 2020. 

“We very much honor the larger conversation that’s happening around the country,” defense attorney Jason Sheffield said outside the courthouse following the ruling. “The fact that this case was brought into the fold of that conversation has made it very difficult indeed to have a trial in the normal sense of what we typically experience.”

Defense attorney Robert Rubin, who also defended the McMichaels, said they “absolutely” plan on filing an appeal on the verdict. 

“I don’t think any single case is a referendum on the criminal justice system in America. This case was about these people in this moment in time,” Rubin said. “We had good prosecutors, good defense lawyers, and a good judge all working hard to make sure justice occurred in this courtroom.”

“And whether the verdict had been the way it went or had been the other way – not guilty – justice would have happened in this courtroom, and it doesn’t speak about the larger problems in America,” Rubin added.  

Travis and Gregory McMichael.
Travis and Gregory McMichael were found guilty of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. Stephen B. Morton/AP

Travis McMichael, 35, fired the shot that killed Arbery. His father, Gregory McMichael, 65, a former police officer, pursued Arbery with his son in a pickup truck. William Bryan, 52, was their neighbor who joined in the chase and filmed the encounter. All three pled not guilty when they were charged months after Arbery’s death with malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, and false imprisonment. 

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

“This is a very difficult day for Travis McMichael and Greg McMichael. These are two men who honestly believed that what they were doing was the right thing to do,” Sheffield said. “But we also recognize that this is a day of celebration for the Arbery family. We cannot tear our eyes away from the way that they feel about this, and we understand that they feel they have gotten justice today.”