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Jurors hear closing arguments in Ahmaud Arbery murder trial

Published: Nov. 22, 2021 at 3:38 PM EST
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BRUNSWICK, Ga. (WTOC) - The jury in the trial of three men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery heard closing arguments in the case Monday.

Jurors heard from more than 20 witnesses, as well as defendant Travis McMichael over the course of the trial.

Closing arguments are the opportunity for both the prosecution and defense to wrap up everything the jury has heard over 11 days. The lawyers make their case for why it all proves either the innocence or guilt of the three defendants.

The prosecution got the first chance to talk to the jury about what they’ve dubbed the “driveway decisions” and assumptions that led to the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery last February. The lead prosecutor asked jurors to “put on their critical thinking caps” when considering the evidence.

She said nothing they’ve heard and seen supports the defenses’ arguments of self defense or that the three defendants were justified in chasing Arbery. Defense attorney Jason Shefield argued it was well within reason for the men to try to catch Arbery.

“It was reasonable to conclude, that based on what his dad said, he just came running in his house, ‘the guy is back who’s broken in,’ to come outside and look and see Mr. Albenze who he knows, who he’s talked with, who he’s shared thoughts and feelings about the person breaking in the house is now saying ‘go that way,’ the guy is back, to get in his car and go,” Sheffield said.

“Remember what Greg McMichael said? ‘Did this guy break into this house today? I don’t know. But hey, law enforcement officers, I’m sure he must have committed some crime today, so why don’t you go and figure out what crime it was that he must have committed today?’ Why do they think he must have committed something? Because he was running down the street,” said lead prosecutor Linda Dunikoski.

Tuesday morning, the jury will hear the prosecution’s two-hour rebuttal to the defense teams’ closing arguments. The state has the burden of proof, that’s why they make their own closing arguments first and then get a rebuttal after the defense does their closing arguments.

The lead prosecutor walked the jury through each charge they’ll be considering, and why prosecutors believe each defendant should be found guilty on those charges. The defense teams then got about an hour each to give their wrap up of the trial.

“Roddie Bryan’s presence is absolutely superfluous and irrelevant to the tragic death of Ahmaud Arbery,” said Kevin Gough, attorney for William Bryan.

“I think if you’ve heard anything that I’ve said, there’s only one decision, is not guilty on all charges,” said Jason Sheffield, attorney for Travis McMichael.

“Greg McMichael’s driveway decision wasn’t the only decision that sent this tragedy in motion. Ahmaud Arbery was not an innocent victim, plundering through Larry English’s house on February 23,” said Laura Hogue, attorney for Greg McMichael.

“So simply put ladies and gentlemen, if you determine that this was not a citizens arrest, this was not legitimate, he had no probable cause, you can’t do this based on the law, then guess what? They’re not justified in killing him. They’re not justified in any of the felonies they committed against him,” said Linda Dunikoski, lead prosecutor.

Again, the jury will hear the last two hours of the prosecutions closing arguments Tuesday morning, then get their instructions from the judge for deliberation.

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