Three White Men Found Guilty of Murdering Ahmaud Arbery
In SummaryFather-and-son duo Gregory McMichael and Travis McMichael, as well as William “Roddie” Bryan, face decades in prison, and in Travis McMichael's case, for the rest of his life.
Three white men were all found guilty of the count of felony murder for killing Black jogger Ahmaud Arbery on Wednesday by a Brunswick, Ga. jury.
Father-and-son duo Gregory McMichael and Travis McMichael, as well as William “Roddie” Bryan, face decades in prison, and in Travis McMichael’s case, for the rest of his life.
Travis McMichael was found guilty on all nine counts.
Arbery, 25, was killed while jogging in a Brunswick neighborhood in February 2020. He was chased, stopped, confronted and fatally shot by Travis McMichael, which was all captured on video filmed by Bryan.
Travis McMichael, the man who pulled the trigger which took Arbery’s life, was found guilty of malice murder, four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit a felony.
Gregory McMichael, the father of Travis McMichael, who grabbed his .357 Magnum pistol and told his son he noticed Arbery running outside, was acquitted on the malice murder charge but found guilty on the felony murder charges, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt.
William “Roddie” Bryan, who filmed Arbery’s murder from his truck, was found guilty on three counts of felony murder, one count of aggravated assault, one count of false imprisonment and one count of criminal attempt to commit a felony. He was found not guilty of malice murder, one felony murder count and one count of aggravated assault.
All three men were each charged with nine criminal counts and as “parties concerned in the commission of a crime,” according to The New York Times.
According to Georgia law, the charges in the indictment included:
- Malice murder (Count 1)
Someone causes a person’s death with “deliberate intention unlawfully to take the life of another human being.” A conviction on this charge is punishable by death or life in prison.
- Felony murder (Counts 2, 3, 4 and 5)
A person commits murder while committing a felony “irrespective of malice” and causes the death of a person. Both Travis and Gregory McMichael were found guilty on all four counts of felony murder.
- Aggravated assault (Count 6)
This charge is for the use of a deadly weapon, which would be the 12-gauge shotgun used in Arbery’s death. The charge brings one to 20 years in prison.
- Aggravated assault (Count 7)
Georgia law also defines aggravated assault as using “any object, device, or instrument which, when used offensively against a person, is likely to or actually does result in serious bodily injury.” This charge also brings one to 20 years imprisonment.
- False imprisonment (Count 8)
A person who doesn’t have the legal power to arrest someone falsely imprisons them and violates their personal liberty. A false imprisonment conviction is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
- Criminal attempt to commit a felony (Count 9)
According to the law, criminal attempt is when a person “with intent to commit a specific crime, he performs any act which constitutes a substantial step toward the commission of that crime.” The three men were all found guilty of criminal attempt.
During the state’s closing arguments, attorneys pushed back against claims that the men were attempting a citizen’s arrest because they weren’t “present when any crime was committed.”
“The suggestion that Ahmaud committed a crime is based on what? Not immediate knowledge, but speculation,” prosecutor Linda Dunikoski said on Monday.
“‘Hey, where are you coming from?’ They don’t know where he’s coming from. ‘What are you doing?’ They don’t know what he’s doing. Remember Mr. Bryan heard, ‘What did you steal?’ They don’t know what he’s done. They don’t know why he’s out there running. They don’t have immediate knowledge. They have no knowledge. They have speculation,” Dunikoski said to the jurors.
Prosecutors said that Arbery wasn’t a threat to anyone and was “just running away” from the men when they caused a dangerous situation.
“You can’t be the unjustified aggressor. You can’t create the situation and then say that you were defending yourself. You just can’t do… you just can’t do it,” she said.
The men’s defense team announced that they will appeal the verdict.
“This is a very difficult day for Travis McMichael and Greg McMichael,” Jason Sheffield, Travic McMichael’s lawyer, said outside the Brunswick, Georgia, courthouse. “These are two men who honestly believed that what they were doing was the right thing to do. However, a Glynn County jury has spoken. They have found them guilty. They will be sentenced.”
Each of the men had their own defense attorneys during the trial, who claimed that they did nothing wrong.
Sheffield told jurors during closing arguments that his client thought Arbery “committed the offense of burglary” and had “the right to perform a citizen’s arrest.”
“You do have the right to have a firearm when you make an arrest. You do have the right to stop a person and there is risk with that and there are tragic consequences that can come from that,” Sheffield said, according to CNN.
Travis McMichael, who testified in his own trial, said crime in the Georgia neighborhood had increased and alleged a series of past vehicle break-ins. He accused Arbery of being responsible for the break-ins and was told by his father to grab his gun with the aim to find out more from Arbery.
Bryan’s defense attorney, Kevin Gough, said his client “was armed only with a cell phone” and is not responsible for Arbery’s death.
“But Roddie Bryan was not aware of any intention, and could not be a party to the crime of malice murder, because he can’t intentionally help commit a crime, he doesn’t know is underway,” Gough told the jury during closing arguments.
The men’s legal troubles are far from over. In February, the federal trial for Bryan and the McMichaels begins. The men are charged with hate crimes in their federal case.
The Department of Justice said the men “used force and threats of force to intimidate and interfere with Arbery’s right to use a public street because of his race,” the Associated Press reported.
Immediately following the verdict, reactions poured in on social media and from outside the Brunswick courthouse.
Rev. Al Sharpton, who’s been in Brunswick during the trial, said “a jury of 11 whites and one Black in the deep south, stood up in the courtroom and said that Black lives do matter.”
In a statement, President Joe Biden said, “Nothing can bring Mr. Arbery back to his family and to his community, but the verdict ensures that those who committed this horrible crime will be punished.”
The President added, “While the guilty verdicts reflect our justice system doing its job, that alone is not enough.”
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said, “Ahmaud Arbery was the victim of a vigilantism that has no place in Georgia,” according to ABC News.
Prosecutors in the case reacted to their victory. Senior Assistant District Attorney Linda Dunikoski said it was a team effort. “We really appreciate the support and faith we had from Mr. Arbery and Ms. Wanda Cooper-Jones.”
This is a developing story