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BRUNSWICK, Georgia: Jurors on Wednesday convicted the three white men accused of the death of Ahmaud Arbery, the black man who was chased and shot as he ran through their neighborhood in an attack that was now part of the largest national calculation on racial injustice.
The jury deliberated for about 10 hours before sentencing Greg McMichael, his son Travis McMichael and neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan, all of whom face minimum life sentences. It is up to the judge to decide whether it comes with or without the possibility of parole.
Travis McMichael defended the verdict, his lawyer’s arm around his shoulder. At one point, McMichael lowered his head to his chest. After the verdicts were read, as he got up to leave, he said “I love you” to his mother, who was in the courtroom.
Moments after the verdicts were announced, Arbery’s father Marcus Arbery Sr. was seen crying and hugging supporters outside the courtroom.
“He did nothing,” said the father, “but run and dream.”
Ben Crump, lawyer for Arbery’s father, spoke outside the courthouse, repeatedly saying: “The spirit of Ahmaud has defeated the mob of lynchings.
Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, thanked the assembled crowd for the verdict and said she didn’t think she would see this day.
“It was a long fight. It was a tough fight. But God is good, ”she said. Of her son, she said, “He will now rest in peace.
The McMichaels seized guns and jumped into a van to chase the 25-year-old after seeing him running outside the port city of Brunswick, Georgia in February 2020. Bryan joined the chase in his pursuit. own van and recorded a cellphone video of Travis McMichael fatally shooting Arbery.
The father and son told police they suspected Arbery of being a runaway burglar. But the prosecution argued that the men caused the fatal confrontation and that there was no evidence Arbery committed any crimes in the neighborhood.
“We commend the courage and bravery of this jury to say that what happened on February 23, 2020 to Ahmaud Arbery – the hunt and murder of Ahmaud Arbery – was not only morally wrong but legally wrong, and we are grateful. “said Latonia Hines, assistant executive prosecutor for Cobb County.
Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski added, “The jury system works in this country, and when you present the truth to people and they see it, they will do the right thing. “
Bryan’s attorney, Kevin Gough, said his team were “disappointed with the verdict, but we respect it.” He was planning to file new legal claims for Bryan after the Thanksgiving vacation.
Superior Court judge Timothy Walmsley did not immediately set a sentencing date, saying he wanted to give both sides time to prepare.
Although prosecutors did not argue that racism motivated the murder, federal authorities charged them with hate crimes, alleging they hunted down and killed Arbery because he was black. This case is expected to be tried in February.
The disproportionately white jury received the case around noon Tuesday.
Shortly after returning to court on Wednesday morning, the jury sent a note to the judge asking him to view two versions of the filming video – the original and one that investigators improved to reduce shadows – three times each.
Jurors returned to the courtroom to view the videos and replay the 911 call one of the accused made from the bed of a van about 30 seconds before the shooting.
During the 911 call that the jury considered, Greg McMichael told an operator, “I’m here at Satilla Shores. There’s a black man running down the street.
He then begins to scream, apparently as Arbery runs towards McMichael’s idling truck with Bryan’s truck behind him: “Stop there!” Damn it, stop! Travis! Shots can be heard seconds later.
Graphic video of the death leaked online two months later, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case, promptly arresting the three men. Each of them is charged with murder and other crimes.
Defense attorneys argue the McMichaels were attempting to arrest a legal citizen when they left after Arbery, seeking to arrest and question him as a suspected burglar after being seen fleeing a house under construction nearby.
Travis McMichael testified that he shot Arbery in self-defense, claiming the running man turned and attacked with his fists as he drove past the idling truck where Travis McMichael was standing with his shotgun.
Prosecutors said there was no evidence Arbery committed any crimes in the accused’s neighborhood. He had enrolled in a technical high school and was preparing to study to become an electrician like his uncles.
Shaun Seals, a 32-year-old longtime resident of Brunswick, rushed to the courthouse to join the crowd cheering for the verdict.
“We just went outside to witness the story,” Seals said, pushing his 10-month-old daughter in a stroller.
Seals, who is black, called the convictions a victory not just for his community but for the nation.
“It will not heal most of the wounds” of a long history of inequality, he said. “But it’s a start and it shows that people are trying. “


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