Three men were found guilty of murdering Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man who was racing through a Georgia suburb empty-handed when white strangers tracked him down, cornered him on a quiet street, and shot him with a shotgun.
At first, the homicide in February 2020 garnered little attention. Arbery’s death rapidly became another example of the nation’s reckoning with racial injustice in the way Black people are treated in their daily lives after footage of the gunshot emerged online.
All of the guys now face a mandatory life sentence in jail. Their sentences will be served with or without the possibility of parole, depending on the judge’s decision.
Arbery’s father had to leave the courtroom after springing up and yelling as the first of 23 guilty verdicts was delivered. Arbery’s mother lowered her head and discreetly pumped her fists throughout the reading of the final criminal count.
Marcus Arbery Sr. remarked of his kid, “He didn’t do anything but run and dream.” Hundreds of Black sympathizers embraced and sobbed outside the courthouse.
Greg McMichael, his son Travis McMichael, and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan were found guilty after a 10-hour jury deliberation.
After noticing Arbery, 25, running outside the Georgia port city of Brunswick, the McMichaels grabbed pistols and hopped in a pickup vehicle to chase him. Bryan joined the chase in his own truck and captured footage of Travis McMichael fatally shooting Arbery on his iPhone.
The father and son informed police they thought Arbery was a thief on the run. The prosecution, on the other hand, claimed that the guys had started the deadly altercation and that there was no proof that Arbery had committed any crimes in the area.
“We applaud this jury’s courage and bravery in declaring that what happened to Ahmaud Arbery on Feb. 23, 2020 — the hunting and killing of Ahmaud Arbery — was not only morally wrong but legally wrong, and we are grateful for that,” Latonia Hines, Cobb County executive assistant district attorney, said.
“The jury system works in our nation,” said prosecutor Linda Dunikoski. People will do the right thing if you expose the truth to them and they perceive it.”
Travis McMichael, 35, stood with his lawyer’s arm over his shoulder during the verdict. He bowed his head to his chest at one point. As he stood to leave after the verdicts were read, he mouthed “love you” to his mother in the courtroom gallery.
When the court announced his first guilty verdict, Greg McMichael, 65, hung his head. Bryan, 52, chewed his lower lip.
Outside the courthouse, Arbery’s father’s attorney, Ben Crump, claimed repeatedly that “the spirit of Ahmaud conquered the lynch mob.”
Wanda Cooper-Jones, Arbery’s mother, praised the audience for the verdict and said she didn’t believe she’d live to see this day.
“It’s been a long battle,” says the narrator. It’s been a long battle. “However, God is wonderful,” she remarked, adding that her son will finally be able to rest in peace.
Attorneys for Travis McMichaels said he and his father think they did the right thing and that the video will bolster their case. However, the McMichaels expressed sadness for Arbery’s death.
Attorney Jason Sheffield stated, “I can tell you honestly, these individuals feel regretful for what happened to Ahmaud Arbery.” “They’re sorry he’s no longer alive.” They regret the tragedy that occurred as a result of their decision to go out there and attempt to stop him.”
They intended to file an appeal.
Kevin Gough, Bryan’s attorney, said his client was “disappointed with the result, but we respect it.” After Thanksgiving, he intended to submit further legal proceedings.
Judge Timothy Walmsley of the Superior Court did not set a sentencing date right away, stating that he wanted to give both parties time to prepare.
President Joe Biden stated in a statement that Arbery’s death was a “devastating reminder” of how far the country still has to go in the battle for racial fairness.
“While guilty convictions demonstrate that our judicial system is doing its job, they are insufficient. Instead, we must recommit to a future of togetherness and shared power, in which no one is afraid of violence because of their skin color,” Biden added.
Despite the fact that prosecutors did not claim that racism was a factor in the death, federal authorities have charged them with hate crimes, saying that they pursued and killed Arbery because he was African-American.
In February, the matter is set to go to trial.