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State rests case in Ahmaud Arbery murder trial

Published: Nov. 16, 2021 at 11:36 AM EST|Updated: Nov. 16, 2021 at 4:30 PM EST
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BRUNSWICK, Ga. (WTOC) - The state rested their case on Tuesday in the Ahmaud Arbery murder trial.

Judge Timothy Walmsley reminded jurors just because the state has rested their case, doesn’t mean they’ve heard all the evidence to be presented in the case.

Motions will be taken into consideration at 9 a.m. and Kevin Gough, William “Roddie” Bryan’s defense attorney, will present his opening statements on Wednesday at 10 a.m.

Arbery’s autopsy photos shown to jurors at murder trial

Jurors heard testimony from forensic pathologist Dr. Edmund Donoghue, with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, to start court Tuesday morning.

He’s the pathologist who performed the autopsy of Ahmaud Arbery who died from three shotgun blasts.

He testified about the condition of Arbery’s body. He pointed out the injuries to Arbery’s knuckles are consistent with someone who fell to the ground without being able to break his own fall.

He said he came to that conclusion after watching the video of Arbery being shot, which led him to another finding about Arbery’s injuries.

“He developed a very distinctive injury called Erb’s palsy, which is a paralysis of the left arm. It has a very specific sign. The forearm is rotated immediately, and the hand goes up like this in what is known as the waiter’s tip position, like a waiter putting his hand out for a tip and after the third shot - you see that,” Donoghue said.

He went on to say one of the shot gun blasts to Arbery’s armpit area paralyzed him in his final moments alive. And agreed with the prosecution that there was nothing law enforcement or medical personnel at the scene could have done to save Arbery’s life.

Dr. Donoghue, initially estimated the first shot that hit Arbery was fired three to four feet away. But changed his estimate to as close as three inches after seeing the cell phone video and talking with another investigator working on the case who came to a different conclusion on the distance of the first shot.

That first gunshot hit Arbery’s chest, as well as his right wrist.

“The gunshot wound to this torso, was that a fatal gunshot wound? If he had never gotten this one under the arm, would that one in the middle of his torso have killed him,” asked lead prosecutor Linda Dunikoski.

“Yes,” answered Dr. Donoghue.

“Is there anything they could’ve done on scene to save his life,” asked Dunikoski.

“No,” answered Dr. Donoghue.

The defense asked Donoghue if Arbery’s wounds from the first shot could indicate that he had grabbed the shotgun from Travis McMichael, and as Travis pulled the gun away, fired. The doctor said it was possible, but he couldn’t say for sure because it wasn’t captured on the cell phone video.

Arbery was shot twice. Dr. Donoghue says that second shotgun wound, which was under Arbery’s left arm, would’ve also been fatal even if that was the only time he was shot.

A number of graphic photos of Arbery’s body were shown to jurors, including the Nike running shoes Arbery had on that day.

Meanwhile, Ahmaud Arbery’s dad continued to call for justice outside the Glynn County Courthouse.

“So your intention was to kill when you grab a gun like that. When you grab a gun, you didn’t give him a chance. Let me tell y’all something, it’s all our business, because it could have been one of y’all kids. It’s all our business. We got to get justice and make this stuff right so this kind of thing don’t happen to nobody,” said his father Marcus Arbery.

Defense wants to add new documents into evidence

Prosecutors put up a fight against documents the defense wanted to include in evidence Tuesday.

It all goes back to the defense’s case, as Judge Walmsley put it, of a “neighborhood on edge” due to crime. A main hook of the defense’s case is that the community was experiencing a crime wave that had neighbors in fear of suspicious people entering their neighborhood.

To support their case, the defense wanted to show the jury a list of suspicious person calls to police from the area. The prosecution argued most of those calls turned out to be bogus and the described suspects were often people who looked nothing like Arbery, some calls included incidents with white suspects for instance.

Prosecutors also said they did not have time to review these reports, only learning about them from the defense early Tuesday morning.

“If we’re going to do this, the state has no problem, but let’s do it, do it right and put in exactly what kind of suspicions people in Satilla Shores had. So if we’re going to do it, the state would like to be able to go into the underlying facts of this with these certified copies to demonstrate to this jury the nature of what they’re trying to intimate here,” Dunikoski said.

“We’re not attempting to say that this was in fact Ahmaud Arbery. What we’re intending is that there was a lot of criminal activity in this neighborhood to cause these neighbors concern, that they were talking about. And this is one part, one part of piecing together the puzzle, it doesn’t always get put together in order. But this is one part, brick by brick, building the picture of what’s going on in this neighborhood,” said Jason Sheffield, attorney for Travis McMichael.

It’s not clear at this point if we’ll be hearing testimony on the neighborhood 911 calls. Judge Walmsley did say he doesn’t think every 911 call is relevant in this case.

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