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All 3 men found guilty of felony murder in the death of Ahmaud Arbery

Published: Nov. 24, 2021 at 1:45 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 24, 2021 at 9:43 PM EST
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BRUNSWICK, Ga. (WTOC) - Members of the jury have reached a verdict in the trial of the three men accused of killing 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery in the Satilla Shores neighborhood on February 23, 2020.

Travis McMichael has been found guilty on all nine charges. Gregory McMichael has been found not guilty of malice murder, but guilty on the other eight charges. William “Roddie” Bryan has been found guilty on six of the nine charges.

The charges for all three men is as follows:

COUNTTRAVIS MCMICHAELGREGORY MCMICHAELWILLIAM “RODDIE” BRYAN
1 - MALICE MURDERGUILTYNOT GUILTYNOT GUILTY
2 - FELONY MURDERGUILTYGUILTYNOT GUILTY
3 - FELONY MURDERGUILTYGUILTYGUILTY
4 - FELONY MURDERGUILTYGUILTYGUILTY
5 - FELONY MURDERGUILTYGUILTYGUILTY
6 - AGG. ASSAULTGUILTYGUILTYNOT GUILTY
7 - AGG. ASSAULTGUILTYGUILTYGUILTY
8 - FALSE IMPRISONMENTGUILTYGUILTYGUILTY
9 - CRIM. ATTEMPT TO COMMIT FELONYGUILTYGUILTYGUILTY

Watch as Judge Timothy Walmsley reads the verdict reached by the jury:

All three men pled not guilty to the charges before the trial began.

Statements from President Biden, Gov. Kemp, and the public

President Joe Biden released a statement following the verdict announcement Wednesday afternoon:

“Ahmaud Arbery’s killing – witnessed by the world on video – is a devastating reminder of how far we have to go in the fight for racial justice in this country. Mr. Arbery should be here today, celebrating the holidays with his mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, and his father, Marcus Arbery. Nothing can bring Mr. Arbery back to his family and to his community, but the verdict ensures that those who committed this horrible crime will be punished. While the guilty verdicts reflect our justice system doing its job, that alone is not enough. Instead, we must recommit ourselves to building a future of unity and shared strength, where no one fears violence because of the color of their skin. My administration will continue to do the hard work to ensure that equal justice under law is not just a phrase emblazoned in stone above the Supreme Court, but a reality for all Americans.”

Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock released a statement after the verdict was announced, saying, “Today’s verdict upholds a sense of accountability, but not true justice. True justice looks like a young Black man not having to worry about being harmed—or killed—while on a jog, while sleeping in his bed, while living what should be a very long life. Ahmaud should be with us today. I am grateful to the jury for their service and for a verdict that says Ahmaud Arbery’s life mattered. He was a son, a nephew, a child of God and he did not deserve to die in this way. I will continue working and praying for true justice and for the family as they continue to grieve and begin the long and difficult journey towards healing.”

Senator Jon Ossoff released a statement in support of Wednesday’s verdict, “I extend again my deepest and most heartfelt condolences to the Arbery family and my gratitude to the jury and court for their service. Ahmaud Arbery was a young man whose life was stolen from him, from his family, from the many who knew and loved him, and from the countless lives he would have touched in decades to come. Ahmaud Arbery’s murderers will be held accountable, but a historic civil rights mobilization was necessary for the killers to face prosecution at all. There was nearly impunity for this murder, and further investigation is necessary to determine how and why officials initially refused to pursue the case. The circumstances of Ahmaud Arbery’s murder and the struggle required to secure a prosecution demonstrate profoundly the urgency of reforms to make equal justice real in America.”

Representative Carl Gillard released a statement as well Wednesday evening, “I am relieved on today that justice has given birth in the recent verdict of the killing of Ahmad Arbery. When I filed the repeal of Georgia’s Citizen Arrest Law in House Bill 45 on last year and had a chance to coauthor House bill 479  I would have never known that this day would come when justice would give birth. Thank you to all of those who continue to fight for what is right and to let the process of our justice system fulfilled it’s purpose. #Justicehascome4Ahmad.

Rep. Gillard co-sponsored House Bill 479. Its passage ultimately lead to the repeal of Georgia’s Citizen’s Arrest Law.

As the verdict was announced, Arbery’s family could be seen, and heard, reacting. As Judge Walmsley read Travis McMichael was guilty of the first charge, Malice Murder, Ahmaud Arbery’s father Marcus Arbery Sr. could be seen standing up and cheering, saying it was a, “long time coming.” The judge asked security to take him out of the courtroom because of the disturbance. Ahmaud Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, could be seen weeping uncontrollably.

Attorney Ben Crump released the following statement on Wednesday afternoon:

“Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. After nearly two years of pain, suffering, and wondering if Ahmaud’s killers would be held to account, the Arbery family finally has some justice. Nothing will bring back Ahmaud, but his family will have some peace knowing the men who killed him will remain behind bars and can never inflict their brand of evil on another innocent soul. While today is not one for celebration, it is one for reflection. This case, by all accounts, should have been opened and closed...the violent stalking and lynching of Ahmaud Arbery was documented on video for the world to witness. But yet, because of the deep cracks, flaws, and biases in our systems, we were left to wonder if we would ever see justice. Today certainly indicates progress, but we are nowhere close to the finish line. America, you raised your voices for Ahmaud. Now is not the time to let them quiet. Keep marching. Keep fighting for what is right. And never stop running for Ahmaud.”

Ahmaud Arbery
Ahmaud Arbery

Ahmaud Arbery’s death and arrest of the defendants

At the time of Arbery’s death, Glynn County Police questioned all three men, but did not make any arrests. It wasn’t until May of 2020 that Travis and Gregory McMichael, as well as William “Roddie” Bryan were arrested and charged.

The arrests came after a video, shot by Bryan, of the McMichael’s chasing Arbery down and killing him went viral. The three men were charged with malice murder and felony murder.

All three men were later indicted on June 24, 2020. Additional charges were added. In addition to malice murder and felony murder charges, each were charged with two counts of aggravated assault and one count each of false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.

On July 17, 2020, all three defendants pled not guilty to all of the charges in connection to Arbery’s death.

In November of 2020, Judge Timothy Walmsley denied Gregory and Travis McMichael bond over concerns of their actions, as well as witness testimony. The court order states the two men posed a significant risk of influencing witnesses and obstructing justice, were a flight risk, and posed a significant danger to persons, community, or property.

On January 13, 2021, Roddie Bryan’s attorney requested for his client to be released from jail because of his “uncontrolled high blood pressure.” The request was denied.

In February of 2021, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp backed plans to overhaul the state’s citizen’s arrest law, taking aim at a statue scrutinized in 2020 after Arbery was killed.

On April 28, 2021, the McMichaels and Bryan were indicted by a federal grand jury on hate crime charges. Counts One and Two of the indictment allege “that the defendants used force and threats of force to intimidate and interfere with Arbery’s right to use a public street because of his race.” All three pled not guilty to the hate crime charges the following month.

On September 2, 2021, former Brunswick District Attorney Jackie Johnson was indicted on charges of violation of oath of public officer and obstruction of a police officer. These charges came from the investigation of the Ahmaud Arbery case. One week later Johnson was arrested and booked into the Glynn County Jail. She was released on bond that same day under her own recognizance under a $10,000 bond.

On September 16, 2021, new body camera video was released of Glynn County Police officers responding to the scene after Arbery was shot and killed. Officers can be heard describing what happened. One officer said he was so close to the scene he heard the gunshots. Former District Attorney Jackie Johnson is accused of directing police officers not to arrest the suspected shooter on the day of the shooting.

In October of 2021, jury duty notices were mailed to 1,000 people for the state’s trial against the three defendants. Jury selection then began on October 18.

It wasn’t until November 4, 2021 that Judge Timothy Walmsley finalized the trial process. Opening statements then began the next day.

The state rested their case on November 16, 2021. The following day, Travis McMichael took the stand. On November 18, all three defense teams rested their case.

Copyright 2021 WTOC. All rights reserved.

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