Author: RUSS BYNUM
BRUNSWICK, GA (AP) – The jury in the three white men accused of the murder of Ahmaud Arbury deliberated around 6:00 on Tuesday without prompting a verdict as they weighed the prosecution’s arguments that the defendants provoked a fatal confrontation with the persistent allegations of defense lawyers that their clients were acting in self-defense.
Initially stating that they wanted to work until the evening, the jury was soon dismissed by a judge with instructions to resume the discussion on Wednesday morning.
“We are working to deliver a verdict,” said Senior Supreme Court Justice Timothy Walmsley.
After more than two weeks of testimony and closing arguments, the prosecution had the final say, as it bears the burden of proving its case beyond reasonable doubt.
Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski spent two hours Tuesday morning railing down attempts by lawyers to blame the 25-year-old black man for his own death. Defense lawyers said Arbury punched him brutally to resist the lawful arrest of the citizen by the accused.
“You cannot demand self-defense if you are an unjustified aggressor,” Linda Dunikoski told the jury in her closing statement. “Who started it? It was not Ahmaud Arbury. “
Dunikoski said that Arbury’s pursuers had “no badge, no uniform, no authority” and were “just some weird guys in a white pickup truck.” And she quoted their own words to the police right after the shooting, when they said they saw Arbury running, but weren’t sure if he had committed the crime.
“You cannot arrest a citizen because someone is running down the street and you don’t know what he did wrong,” Dunikoski said.
Following the conclusion of the prosecution, Supreme Court Justice Timothy Walmsley gave instructions to a disproportionately white jury on how to apply the law before the panel began deliberations at the Glynn County Courthouse in the port city of Brunswick.
Arbury’s assassination became part of a larger national program to combat racial injustice after a graphic video of his death was leaked online two months later.
Father and son Greg and Travis McMichael grabbed guns and chased Arbury in a pickup truck after they spotted him running through their unit on February 23, 2020. A neighbor, William “Roddy” Brian, joined the chase and recorded a video of Travis McMichael’s discovery of Fire as Arbury stabbed and grabbed McMichael’s shotgun.
No one was charged with murder until Brian’s video was leaked and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over from local police. All three have been charged with murder and other crimes.
Dunikoski said Tuesday that McMichels and Brian threatened Arbury with their pickups and pointed a shotgun at him before the final showdown, in which Arbury punched and grabbed a pistol.
She noted that Brian told police that he used his truck to drive Arbury into a ditch and cut off his path, while Greg McMichael told officers that they “trapped him like a rat.” According to her, the actions of both men directly contributed to the death of Arbury.
“It doesn’t matter who actually pulled the trigger,” Dunikoski said. “By law, they are all guilty.”
She also said that there was no evidence that Arbury committed crimes in the area of the accused. She said that he had never been seen stealing. Five times he was recorded by CCTV cameras in an unfinished building under construction, from where he fled.
“You have wood, you have it all,” Dunikoski said. “Mister. Arbury never shows up with a bag. He doesn’t drive up with a U-load. … All he does is wander around for a few minutes and then leave.”
The prosecutor told the jury that someone can arrest a citizen only in “emergency situations” when the crime is happening “right here and now.”
Defense lawyers objected to Dunikoski’s explanation of the citizen’s arrest as they argued that McMichel had reason to suspect that Arbury had stolen items from the house. They said the owner had discovered the missing items even before he installed the security cameras.
“This is a distortion of the law and the argument is misplaced,” Greg McMichael’s attorney told Judge Franklin Hogue. “We can’t fix this,” he said in front of the jury, as lawyers finished their closing arguments on Monday.
Lawyer Jason Sheffield said his client Travis McMichael fired a shotgun in self-defense after Arbury attacked him, punched him and tried to grab the weapon. Sheffield called Arbury’s death a tragedy, but he himself was to blame.
Arbury was also charged by lawyers for the other two defendants. Laura Hough, Greg McMichael’s attorney, said Arbury “chose to fight.” Kevin Gough, representing Brian, asked why Arbury hadn’t called for help if he was in danger.
“Maybe it’s because Mr. Arbury doesn’t need help,” Gough said.
Arbury entered technical college and was preparing to study to become an electrician like his uncle at the time.