A Jury Has Found The Three Men Who Killed Ahmaud Arbery Guilty Of Felony Murder

The three white men who shot and killed Ahmaud Arbery were found guilty of felony murder on Wednesday.

The death of Arbery, who was black, in February 2020 prompted a protest of another aspect of racial inequality in the justice system. The men who admitted to chasing and killing the man were not immediately arrested.

It wasn't until video of the shooting became public that questions were raised about how local authorities handled the investigation.

The investigation's sputtering beginnings and the selection of the mostly white jury that would decide the case were reminders of race and racism. The judge, prosecutors, and defense attorneys tried to hide the issue during the trial.

Linda Dunikoski tried to convince the jury that the core of the defendants' actions was their decision to stop Arbery because he was black.

"All three of these defendants made assumptions about what was going on that day, and they made their decision to attack Ahmaud Arbery in their driveway because he was a Black man running down the street," Dunikoski said. They shot and killed him because he wouldn't stop and talk to them. They were going to make him stop.

McMichael was found guilty of all nine charges levied against him, including malice murder, four counts of felony murder, two counts of assault, and one count of false imprisonment.

Greg McMichael was found guilty of four counts of felony murder, two counts of assault, one count of false imprisonment, and one count of criminal attempt to commit a felony. He was not found guilty of malice murder.

William Bryan was found guilty of three counts of felony murder, one count of assault, one count of false imprisonment and a single count of criminal attempt to commit a felony. He was found not guilty of malice murder, felony murder, and assault.

All three will be sentenced to life in prison.

The judge stopped the proceedings when a person yelled out at the verdict being read and ordered the person to leave. CNN reported that the person was Arbery's father.

The McMichaels chased after Arbery after prosecutors suggested he was racially profiled. The jury didn't hear any evidence that could have shown racial bias, and the judge barred the use of an image that showed the front of the McMichaels' pickup. The jury didn't hear an allegation that McMichael called Arbery the n-word after shooting him.

Prosecutors argued that the McMichaels and Bryan attacked the Arbery. The three men were trying to make a citizen's arrest of Arbery because they were concerned about the number of break-ins in their neighborhood.

"If this was a case about trying to kill a black jogger, then the way he reacted would not have been appropriate," said defense attorney Jason Sheffield.

Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted of murder charges last week after he shot and killed two protesters. Rittenhouse traveled to the scene of violent protests armed, yet said on the stand that he was only there to protect property from rioters. His attorneys argued that he fired in self defense.

The McMichaels attorneys told jurors that the father and son took it upon themselves to try to stop Arbery, and that they shot him in self-defense.

You are allowed to defend yourself. If you believe it is necessary, you can use force that is likely to cause death or serious bodily injury. At that moment, he believed it was necessary. This is a law for a person in a situation like that.

Both sides agreed that the McMichaels spotted Arbery running in their neighborhood, then got into their pickup truck to chase him. Bryan followed in another truck and filmed the chase.

Bryan filmed a truck stopped on the side of the road as Arbery tried to run past it. A gunshot can be heard, and Arbery and McMichael can be seen in close quarters. McMichael testified that he thought Arbery could pose a threat because he was running toward him. He told the jury that Arbery grabbed his shotgun, but then admitted that he was not sure if Arbery actually grabbed the gun.

McMichael said he shot Arbery even though he never showed a weapon, never spoke to him, or threatened him.

Prosecutors argued that the three men had no right to make a citizen's arrest because they had not seen Arbery commit a crime.

Defense attorneys argued that Arbery's decision not to stop at the direction of the McMichaels led to his death.

"Arbery died because he chose to fight instead of staying where he was, and he had to avoid being captured that day and arrested by police," Laura Hogue said in closing arguments. She said that she was leaving McMicheal with no other alternative but to be placed in a position of killing another human being.

The defense attorneys argued that the defendants' decision to go after Arbery was a result of previous incidents of theft in the neighborhood.

The previous incidents had left his client on edge, and he pointed out that the video from the neighboring home that was under construction showed Arbery wandering the area in the past. McMichael had seen the video and identified Arbery as a suspect, even though the video doesn't show him taking anything from the property.

Kevin Gough tried to distance his client from the McMichaels, arguing that William Bryan didn't take a weapon, had no idea the father and son had armed themselves, and that he provided video and testimony to police.

Arbery was being chased down by the McMichaels, so he didn't reach out to any of the neighbors for help.

He told jurors that Mr. Arbery doesn't want help.

Arbery was found with no weapons when he was killed, but defense attorneys looked to paint him as the one who was responsible.

Hogue referred to Arbery as a "recurring nighttime invader" to the property because he refused to stop disobeying the McMichaels.

She made a reference to Arbery's toenails while trying to cast doubt on the prosecution's argument.

She said that turning Ahmaud Arbery into a victim after the choices he made does not reflect the reality of what brought him to Satilla Shores.

Protesters, including civil rights leaders and armed Black militias, decried the racism they said was on display outside the courtroom.

The Reverend Jesse Jackson showed up to the trial in support of Arbery's family, prompting the defense to try to have him removed from the courtroom twice.

"He is an icon in the civil rights movement, and I think we all know that," he said. The issue that I brought up was how many pastors the Arbery family has.

Al Sharpton was in court.

"We don't want any more black pastors here," he said.

The judge denied his motions.