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Jury convicts 3 white men of murder in killing of Ahmaud Arbery

Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael and William
Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael and William "Roddie" Bryan, Jr.

BRUNSWICK, Georgia -- A Georgia jury on Wednesday convicted three white men of murder for chasing down Ahmaud Arbery in their pickup trucks and fatally shooting the 25-year-old Black man.

The jury reached the verdicts after deliberating about 11 hours over two days.

Travis McMichael, who shot fatally shot Arbery in February 2020, was convicted on all nine charges, including malice murder and four counts of felony murder.

McMichael's father, Gregory McMichael, 65, was found not guilty of malice murder, but was convicted on the remaining charges, including the felony murder counts.

The McMichael's neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan, 53, was found guilty of three of the felony murder counts and a charge of criminal intent to commit a felony.

The jury verdicts were read in court by the presiding judge in the case, Timothy Walmsley. Having been convicted of the felony murder charges, the defendants all face a maximum sentence of life in prison.

The panel began deliberating the nationally televised trial on Tuesday after hearing 13 days of evidence and listening to numerous witnesses, including the testimony of defendant Travis McMichael, 35, who claimed he shot the unarmed Arbery with a shotgun in self-defense during a face-to-face fight over his weapon.

McMichael, his father, Gregory McMichael, and their neighbor, Bryan, were tried on a nine-count state indictment. The charges included malice murder, multiple charges of felony murder, false imprisonment, aggravated assault with a 12-gauge shotgun and aggravated assault with their pickup trucks.

During the trial, the jury of 11 white people and one Black person heard wildly different theories based on the same evidence in the racially charged case. Prosecutors alleged the defendants pursued and murdered Arbery because of wrong "assumptions and driveway decisions" they made that the Black man running through their neighborhood had committed a burglary, while defense attorneys countered that Arbery was shot in self-defense when he resisted a citizen's arrest.

The shooting unfolded on Feb. 23, 2020, in the Satilla Shores neighborhood near Brunswick after Arbery, who prosecutors claim was just out for a Sunday jog, was spotted by a community resident inside a home that was under construction and where Arbery had been previously captured on security video looking around but never taking anything, according to the evidence.

The chase of Arbery started when Gregory McMichael, a retired Glynn County police officer, spotted Arbery running past his home. Prosecutors said Gregory McMichael rushed into his residence to fetch his gun and his son, Travis, who armed himself with a Remington pump-action shotgun before they got into a truck and chased after the Black man.

Bryan, who lived near the McMichaels, joined the chase not knowing why the McMichaels were chasing Arbery and told investigators that he used his truck to help corner Arbery just before Travis McMichael shot him.

Arbery’s killing became part of a larger national reckoning on racial injustice after the graphic video of his killing leaked online two months after his shooting death and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case, quickly arresting the three men.

Though prosecutors did not argue that racism motivated the killing, federal authorities have charged all three men with hate crimes, alleging that they chased and killed Arbery because he was Black. That case is scheduled to go to trial in February.

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