In what truly appeared to be a modern day lynching, the three men charged in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery were found guilty and convicted of murder on Wednesday.
The convictions for Greg McMichael, son Travis McMichael, and neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan came after jurors deliberated for about 10 hours. The men face minimum sentences of life in prison. It is up to the judge to decide whether that comes with or without the possibility of parole.
Travis McMichael stood for the verdict, his lawyer’s arm around his shoulder. At one point, McMichael lowered his head to his chest. After the verdicts were read, as he stood to leave, he mouthed “love you” to his mother, who was in the courtroom.
Moments after the verdicts were announced, Arbery’s father, Marcus Arbery Sr., was seen crying and hugging supporters outside the courtroom.
“He didn’t do nothing,” Arbery's father said, “but run and dream.”
In February of 2020, 25-year-old Arbery was running in the neighborhood when the McMichaels grabbed their guns and followed the young black man in their pickup truck. Bryan followed suit in his own truck and recorded Travis McMichael fatally shooting Arbery.
Two months later, the video leaked online.
Federal authorities charged the men with hate crimes, alleging that they stalked and murdered Arbery because he was black. That case is expected to go to trial in February.
The jury sent a note to Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley soon after returning to court Wednesday morning asking to view two versions of the shooting video — the original and one that investigators enhanced to reduce shadows — three times apiece.
Jurors returned to the courtroom to see the videos and listen again the 911 call one of the defendants made from the bed of a pickup truck about 30 seconds before the shooting.
The disproportionately white jury received the case around midday Tuesday and spent about six hours deliberating before adjourning without a verdict.
The McMichaels told police they suspected Arbery was a fleeing burglar when they armed themselves and jumped in a pickup truck to chase him. Bryan joined the pursuit when they passed his house and recorded cellphone video of Travis McMichael blasting Arbery at close range with a shotgun as Arbery threw punches and grabbed for the weapon.
Prosecutors said there was no evidence Arbery had committed crimes in the defendants’ neighborhood. He had enrolled at a technical college and was preparing at the time to study to become an electrician like his uncles.
According to the 911 call that was played for the jar, Greg McMichael can be heard telling an operator, “I’m out here in Satilla Shores. There’s a Black male running down the street.”
Then shouting can be heard as Arbery is suspected to have been running up to the McMichael's truck while Bryan's truck followed up behind him, “Stop right there! Damn it, stop! Travis!”
Moments later gunshots are heard.
The McMichael's defense attorneys attempted to spin the story as if the men were trying to pull off a legal citizen's arrest, and Travis McMichael testified that he shot Arbery in self-defense.
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