All three men who had been charged in the death of Ahmaud Arbery learned their fate on Wednesday when the jury verdict came in.
The Associated Press reported that the three defendants were found guilty after ten hours of deliberation from the jury. This means that prosecutors were successful in arguing that the defendants provoked a confrontation with Arbery, while defense attorneys failed in claiming that their clients acted in self-defense.
Daily Mail reported that Travis McMichael was found guilty on the charge of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and criminal attempt to commit a felony. His father Gregory McMichael, who allegedly pursued Arbery with his son, was charged with murder. This charge comes with a minimum sentence of life in prison, with a judge deciding whether or not that comes with a possibility of parole.
Meanwhile, the McMichael’s neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan was found guilty of felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and criminal attempt to commit a felony. The only good news for him came when he was found not guilty of malice murder and one count each of felony murder and aggravated assault.
All three defendants had pleaded not guilty to all charges. The McMichaels had claimed to police that they thought Arbery was a fleeing burglar when they grabbed their guns and pursued him in a pickup truck. When they passed Bryan’s house, he joined them and filmed Travis on his cellphone blasting Arbery at close range with a shotgun as Arbery threw punches and grabbed for the weapon.
Prosecutors argued that the defendants had wrongfully assumed the worst about Arbery as they tried to shut down arguments that they were attempting a valid citizen’s arrest.
“They made their decision to attack Ahmaud Arbery in their driveways because he was a black man running down the street,” Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski said in her closing arguments. She added that they killed him “not because he’s a threat to them, but because he wouldn’t stop and talk to them.” She also pointed out that there was no evidence that Arbery had committed crimes in the defendants’ neighborhood.
Defense lawyer Jason Sheffield argued that Travis had “reasonable and probable grounds of suspicion” to follow the 25-year-old in his truck because he believed he was a burglar.
“Travis felt something is not right…Aggravated assault is a felony that can be committed by the use of fists. Fists are a weapon. And right now as Ahmaud Arbery is running towards Travis McMichael he could have a gun and he definitely has fists,” Sheffield said in court.
The McMichaels and Bryan will be sentenced at a later date.