The jury began deliberations Tuesday in the trial into the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, where they will determine the fate of three men facing charges of murder and other serious crimes in connection with the fatal shooting of the 25-year-old black man last year.
The 12 jurors left the courtroom after receiving their instructions after 10 days of testimony from a variety of witnesses, including police officers, neighbors, experts from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and one of the defendants.
“With those ladies and gentlemen, I ask you to step down to the jury room,” said Judge Timothy R. Walmsley.
The three men, Travis McMichael, their father Greg McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan, were charged individually and as “parties involved in the commission of a crime” with one count of intentional manslaughter, four counts of felony murder, two counts. aggravated assault, a false incarceration charge, and a criminal attempt to commit a felony.
Conviction in the case could result in life in prison. All three defendants have pleaded not guilty
The charges are related to the fatal shooting of Arbery, by Travis McMichael, on February 23, 2020 in a Georgia neighborhood. The incident was captured on camera and made national headlines once it was leaked in May 2020.
The McMichaels, both armed, began chasing Arbery from a pickup truck after he left a nearby home that was under construction, according to the newspaper. Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The two have said they were tracking Arbery based on the now-terminated Georgia Citizen Arrest Law.
Bryan, a resident of the area, soon joined the chase in his own truck. He is the person who took the video that documented the last seconds before Arbery’s death.
As Arbery raced down the street, the two trucks approached him, prompting him to charge into Travis McMichael. McMichael shot Arbery three times as the 25-year-old tried to grab his shotgun, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Defense attorneys for the McMichaels have argued that their clients intended to act under state law on citizen arrest, which allowed them to detail Arbery because they suspected he was fleeing the place where he committed a crime. Governor of Georgia Brian kempBrian KempMcBath to Run in Neighboring District After GOP Redrawn Lines Time to Repeal and Replace Citizen Arrest Laws Georgia publishes redistricting proposal reinforcing GOP power MORE (R) repealed the law in May.
His attorneys say the McMichaels were concerned about an increase in crime in the area and, in turn, believed that Arbery had just committed a crime, according to The New York Times.
An attorney representing Travis McMichael, the defendant who shot Arbery to death, has also argued that his client was acting in self-defense when he drew his gun because he feared for his life.
Bryan’s attorney has tried to isolate himself from the case, arguing that his client did not know a crime was occurring when he joined the chase and began filming, according to the Times. The attorney, Kevin Gough, has also said that Bryan did not take any action that would harm Arbery.
However, prosecutor Linda Dunikoski has tried to make the argument that the three defendants had no reason to follow Arbery because there was no evidence that he committed a crime.
Dunikoski also said McMichaels and Bryan had preconceived notions about Arbery, and told the jury they decided to attack him “because he was a black man running down their street.”