Welcome to our ongoing coverage of the Ahmaud Arbery case trial! We will share any fast-breaking news on today’s closing arguments, as well as any verdicts and events around the jury deliberations which may begin today. (When deliberations start we will have a new VERDICT WATCH post. (If you’re unfamiliar with this case, scroll down for background information.)
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Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old black man, was shot and killed on February 23, 2020 when he charged an armed Travis McMichael on a Georgia roadway and fought McMichael for control of his shotgun. Travis McMichael was standing beside his stopped pickup truck at the time, and his father Greg McMichael was in the bed of the truck armed with a pistol.
The McMichaels had been pursuing Arbery in the belief that he was a serial felony burglary who had been plaguing their suburban neighborhood for weeks. A short distance from where the shooting took place, neighbor William “Roddy” Bryan followed in his own vehicle, making a shaky recording of the final confrontation on his cell phone–it was this video that would bring this case to national attention a few weeks after the shooting took place, and after initial prosecutorial review had resulted in no charges against either the McMichaels or Bryan.
The defense in this trial is arguing that the men were acting consistently with a lawful citizens arrest of a fleeing suspect for whom they had “reasonable and probable grounds of suspicion” of being in flight from a felony–the controlling language from the then-existing Georgia citizen’s arrest law, a law which has since been repealed as a consequence of this event. In the course of executing this citizen’s arrest, Travis McMichaels was attacked by Arbery, who fought him for control of his shotgun, and Travis ultimately shot Arbery in lawful sef-defense.
In fact, Arbery is known to have “visited” a home under construction, from which costly items had been repeatedly stolen, at least five times, each visit captured on surveillance cameras installed in an effort to quell the thefts. The prosecution argues that there’s no evidence that Arbery actually stole any of the taken items, but George felony burglary law does not require an actual taking of property–unlawfully entering a property for the purpose of committing a crime is felony burglary under Georgia law even if nothing is actually taken. Both McMichaels had seen these surveillance videos, and on the day in question had observed Arbery in apparent flight from the burglary scene–conduct the prosecution and media characterize as mere recreational jogging.
The State argument of guilt is that these three white men coordinated to threaten Arbery without just cause, resulting in his death.
The charges against the three men include:
- Malice murder, punishable by death or life imprisonment without possibility of parole–but execution is not being sought by the prosecution here.
- Felony murder, four counts, based on predicate underlying felonies also charged, also punishable by death or life in prison without possibility of parole.
- Aggravated assault, two counts, both predicates for felony murder, punishable itself by up to 20 years.
- False imprisonment, another predicate for felony murder, punishable by up to 10 years.
- Criminal attempt to commit a felony, false imprisonment, another predicate felony, punishable by up to 5 years.
Here’s the actual general bill of indictment against all three men:
Until next time:
You carry a gun so you’re hard to kill.
Know the law so you’re hard to convict.
Attorney Andrew F. Branca
Law of Self Defense LLC
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