Author: RUSS BYNUM
BRUNSWICK, Georgia (AP) – Three men were convicted of Wednesday’s murder in the murder of Ahmaud Arbury, a black man who fled empty-handed through the Georgia squadron when white strangers chased him, trapped him in a quiet street, and blew him up. him with a shotgun.
The February 2020 murder initially attracted limited attention. But when footage of the shooting leaked online, Arbury’s death quickly became another example of racial injustice against blacks in everyday life.
Now all men face a mandatory life sentence. The judge will decide whether their sentences will be served with or without parole.
When the first of 23 convictions was announced, Arbury’s father had to leave the courtroom, jumping up and screaming. As she read the latest criminal indictment, Arbury’s mother lowered her head and gently clenched her fists.
“He did nothing but run and dream,” said Marcus Arbury Sr. of his son. Outside the courthouse, dozens of black supporters hugged and cried.
The jury sat for about 10 hours before convicting Greg McMichael, son of Travis McMichael and neighbor William “Roddy” Brian.
The McMihals grabbed their guns and jumped into a pickup truck to chase 25-year-old Arbury after they saw him fleeing outside the Georgia port city of Brunswick. Brian joined the chase in his own pickup truck and recorded a video of Travis McMichael fatally shooting Arbury on his mobile phone.
The father and son informed the police that they suspected Arbury of the robber’s escape. But the prosecution argued that these people provoked the fatal confrontation and that there is no evidence that Arbury committed any crimes in the neighborhood.
“We pay tribute to the courage and courage of this jury, who declared that what happened on February 23, 2020 with Ahmaud Arbury – the hunt and murder of Ahmaud Arbury – was not only morally wrong, but also legally wrong, and we are grateful for that,” she said. Latonia Hines, Assistant Executive Attorney for Cobb County.
Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski added: “The country has a jury system. And when you present the truth to people and they see it, they are doing the right thing. “
Travis McMichael, 35, stood behind the verdict, his lawyer hugging his shoulder. At some point, he dropped his head on his chest. After the verdicts were announced, about to leave, he whispered to his mother “I love you” in the gallery of the courtroom.
Greg McMichael, 65, hung his head when the judge announced his first conviction. Brian, 52, bit his lip.
Speaking in front of the courthouse, Ben Crump, Arbury’s father’s attorney, repeatedly said that “the spirit of Ahmaud defeated the vigilantes.”
Arbury’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, thanked the audience for the verdict and said that she did not think she would see this day.
“It was a long fight. It was a tough fight. But God is kind, ”she said, adding that now her son will rest in peace.
Travis McMichels’ lawyers said both he and his father believed they did the right thing and that they believed the video would help their case. But they also said that McMickels regretted that Arbury was killed.
“I can tell you honestly, these people are sorry about what happened to Ahmaud Arbury,” attorney Jason Sheffield said. “They are sorry that he is dead. They regret the tragedy that happened because they decided to go there and try to stop him. “
They planned to file an appeal.
Brian’s lawyer Kevin Gough said his team was “disappointed with the verdict, but we respect it.” He planned to file new legal petitions after Thanksgiving.
Supreme Court Justice Timothy Walmsley did not immediately set a sentencing date, saying he wanted to give both sides time to prepare.
In a statement, President Joe Biden said the murder of Arbury was a “devastating reminder” of how much work the country still has to do in the fight for racial justice.
“While convictions show that our justice system is doing its job, that alone is not enough. Instead, we must renew our commitment to building a future of unity and shared strength in which no one fears violence because of their skin color, ”Biden said.
Although prosecutors did not claim racism was the cause of the killings, federal authorities charged them with hate crimes, claiming they stalked and killed Arbury because he was black. This case will go to court in February.
A disproportionately white jury accepted the case by Tuesday afternoon.
Shortly after returning to court on Wednesday morning, the jury sent a note to the judge asking him to view two versions of the video – the original and the one that investigators improved to reduce shadows – three times each.
The jury returned to the courtroom to watch the videotapes and again listen to an emergency call one of the defendants made from the back of a pickup truck about 30 seconds before the shooting.
During the 911 emergency call, which was reviewed by the jury, Greg McMichael told the operator, “I’m here in Satilla Shores. A black man is running down the street.
He then starts screaming, apparently as Arbury runs towards the idle McMichael truck, followed by Brian’s truck, “Stop! Damn, stop! Travis! »After a few seconds, shots are heard.
The graphic video appeared two months later, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over, quickly arresting the three men.
Defense lawyers allege that the McMichells tried to arrest the legal citizen when they went after Arbury, trying to detain and interrogate him after he was seen fleeing a nearby house under construction.
Travis McMichael testified that he shot Arbury in self-defense. He said that Arbury turned and pounded with his fists as he dashed past the truck where McMichael was standing with his shotgun.
At the time of his death, Arbury entered a technical college and was preparing to study as an electrician, like his uncle.
Sean Seals, a 32-year-old Brunswick resident, rushed to the courthouse to join the crowd in cheering for the verdict.
“We just came to see the story,” Sils said, pushing his 10-month-old daughter in the stroller.
Seals, who is Black, called persuasion a victory not only for his community, but also for the nation.
“It won’t heal most of the wounds” caused by a long history of inequality, he said. “But this is the beginning and shows that people are trying.”