All three men charged with the death of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery have been found guilty of murder.
A jury convicted Greg McMichael, 65, his son Travis McMichael, 35, and neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan, 52, after roughly 10 hours of deliberations. Each charge carries a minimum sentence of life in prison, though it is up to Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley if that comes with or without the possibility of parole.
The McMichaels grabbed guns and jumped in a pickup truck to chase Arbery, who was black, after seeing him running in their neighborhood in Feb. 2020. Bryan joined the pursuit in his own pickup and recorded a cellphone video of Travis McMichael fatally shooting Arbery. The case garnered national attention about the footage leaked online in April 2020.
The defense argued that the McMichaels were attempting to apprehend Arbery under a legal citizen’s arrest under a now-defunct Georgia law after they spotted him running from a nearby home under construction. That citizen’s arrest law was repealed by Gov. Brian Kemp (R) earlier this year.
Prosecutors argued that the McMichaels didn’t have any evidence that Arbery had committed any crimes.
Though prosecutors didn’t argue that the killing was racially motivated, federal authorities have charged the men, who are white, with hate crimes, alleging that they chased and killed Arbery because of his ethnicity. That case is scheduled to go to trial in February.
During deliberations on Wednesday morning, the jurors asked to view two versions of the video — the original and one that investigators enhanced to reduce shadows — three times each. They also reviewed the 911 call one of the defendants made from the bed of a pickup truck approximately 30 seconds before the fatal shooting. The Associated Press described the jury as “disproportionately white.”
Marcus Arbery, Ahmaud’s father, spoke shortly after the verdict, thanking his son’s mother, the activists, and attorneys who helped bring attention to his son’s case.
“God put us all together to make this happen,” Arbery said. “We conquered that lynch mob. We got that lynch mob.”
“We don’t want to see nobody go through this,” he added. “Let’s keep fighting and making this world a better place for all human beings.”
“All human beings need to be treated equally,” Arbery said.