3 men charged in Ahmaud Arbery's death convicted of murder
A jury found three Georgia men guilty of murder in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man whom the trio pursued and confronted after seeing Arbery running in their neighborhood in 2020. [Photo: AP]
Wanda Cooper-Jones, rear center left, mother of Ahmaud Arbery, holds a celebration toast with family and friends, on Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021, at a residence on St. Simons Island, Ga., following the guilty verdict of the three men who killed her son. [Photo: AP]
A painted mural of Ahmaud Arbery is displayed on May 17, 2020, in Brunswick, Ga., where the 25-year-old man was shot and killed in February. Arbery was shot and killed by two men who told police they thought he was a burglar. (File photo: AP]
Three men were convicted of murder Wednesday in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, the Black man who was running empty-handed through a Georgia subdivision when the white strangers chased him, trapped him on a quiet street and blasted him with a shotgun.
The February 2020 slaying drew limited attention at first. But when video of the shooting leaked online, Arbery's death quickly became another example in the nation's reckoning of racial injustice in the way Black people are treated in their everyday lives.
Now the men all face a mandatory sentence of life in prison. The judge will decide whether their sentences are served with or without the possibility of parole.
As the first of 23 guilty verdicts were read, Arbery’s father had to leave the courtroom after leaping up and shouting. At the reading of the last criminal count, Arbery’s mother dropped her head and quietly pumped her fists.
“He didn’t do nothing but run and dream,” Marcus Arbery Sr. said of his son. Outside the courthouse, dozens of Black supporters hugged and cried.
The jury deliberated for about 10 hours before convicting Greg McMichael, son Travis McMichael and neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan.
The McMichaels grabbed guns and jumped in a pickup truck to pursue the 25-year-old Arbery after seeing him running outside the Georgia port city of Brunswick. Bryan joined the pursuit in his own pickup and recorded cellphone video of Travis McMichael fatally shooting Arbery.
The father and son told police they suspected Arbery was a fleeing burglar. But the prosecution argued that the men provoked the fatal confrontation and that there was no evidence Arbery committed any crimes in the neighborhood.
“We commend the courage and bravery of this jury to say that what happened on Feb. 23, 2020, to Ahmaud Arbery — the hunting and killing of Ahmaud Arbery — it was not only morally wrong but legally wrong, and we are thankful for that,” said Latonia Hines, Cobb County executive assistant district attorney.
Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski added: “The jury system works in this country. And when you present the truth to people and they see it, they will do the right thing.”
Travis McMichael, 35, stood for the verdict, his lawyer’s arm around his shoulder. At one point, he lowered his head to his chest. After the verdicts were read, as he stood to leave, he mouthed “love you” to his mother in the courtroom gallery.
Greg McMichael, 65, hung his head when the judge read his first guilty verdict. Bryan, 52, bit his lip.
Speaking outside the courthouse, Ben Crump, attorney for Arbery’s father, repeatedly said that “the spirit of Ahmaud defeated the lynch mob.”
Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, thanked the crowd gathered for the verdict and said she did not think she would see this day.