JURORS read out their verdict in the case of Ahmaud Arbery who was killed by three close-range shotgun blasts as he jogged through a Georgia neighborhood in 2020.
Arbery's family has been relentlessly seeking justice since Ahmaud's death was publicized on social media.
What was the jury's decision in the Ahmaud Arbery case?
Travis McMichael was found guilty of malice murder, four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and a criminal attempt to commit a felony.
Gregory McMichael was found not guilty for the charge of malice murder, and guilty of four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and criminal attempt to commit a felony.
William Bryan was found guilty of aggravated assault and felony murder.
What happened in the defense attorney's closing arguments?
An audible gasp was heard in the courtroom on Monday, November 22 during the closing arguments in the case against Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael, and William Bryan after the three men were charged.
Defense attorney Laura Hogue spoke about the case in court and told the jurors: "Turning Ahmaud Arbery into a victim after the choices that he made does not reflect the reality of what brought Ahmaud Arbery to Satilla Shores in his khaki shorts with no socks to cover his long, dirty toenails."
Prosecutor Charles Coleman told CNN that Hogue's comments, "were an attempt to sort of really trigger some of the racial tropes and stereotypes that may be deeply embedded in the psyche of some of the jurors."
He said her comments portrayed Arbery as a "runaway slave."
Likewise, civil rights attorney L. Chris Stewart said, "It was disrespectful, it was horrific, and attorney Hogue should be ashamed of herself, to bring up his feet in the middle of trial. What is wrong with you?"
Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski presented her closing arguments on Tuesday, November 23. She emphasized to the jury the absence of a cause for Arbery's death and said the men told police Arbery had not committed a crime that they knew of.
Who are the Ahmaud Arbery suspects?
Arbery's case, along with the high-profile killings of George Floyd and other Black men and women, fueled months of nationwide protests against racial injustice and police brutality in the US.
Court began on November 5, 2021, for the hearing of Gregory McMichael, 65, his son Travis McMichael, 35, and William "Roddie" Bryan, 52.
Gregory McMichael, 65, is a white retired law enforcement officer.
Employment records show he failed to complete sufficient basic law enforcement training, the Guardian reported.
This led to him losing his power of arrest in 2006, it adds, for failing to complete the required 20 hours of training the previous year.
McMichael was an investigator in the Brunswick judicial circuit district attorney’s office from 1995 to 2019.
News4Jax adds that: "For eight years, Gregory McMichael was acting as an investigator with no arrest powers due to lack of training."
The website explains: "The lapse in state-mandated training for community-oriented policing, de-escalation, and use-of-force meant, between 2006 and 2014, McMichael didn’t have the authority or right to apply for arrest warrants, search warrants or conduct arrests under the color of the law."
In 2014, according to a personnel memo cited by News4Jax, "McMichael had his department-issued firearm taken away, his badge and any other card identifying him as a deputy sheriff or District Attorney’s Office investigator".
It added: "He was told he couldn’t serve subpoenas or work in the field until the issues were resolved."
McMichael applied for a training waiver, telling the Georgia POST Council that he had suffered two heart attacks between 2005 and 2009.
Also, his wife had been diagnosed with cancer and the couple had filed for bankruptcy due to “overwhelming” medical bills, News4Jax reports.
In 2014 his boss spoke to the council on McMichael's behalf, and his training waiver was granted.
That meant he was able to continue on as chief investigator for District Attorney Jackie Johnson's office.
Five years later, in February 2019, months before he retired, McMichael again lost his certification from the council for failing to complete the required training in 2018, says the Guardian.
Stripped of his law enforcement duties, he was reassigned to work as a staff liaison in the Camden county district attorney’s office – but was not allowed to have his badge or carry a firearm.
McMichael retired in June 2019.
Dwayne Pollock, assistant Human Resources director for Glynn County, told Insider that the office "located no record of discipline or complaints" associated with McMichael's career.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that McMichael had helped with a "previous prosecution of Ahmaud Arbery".
When he was in high school, Arbery was sentenced to five years probation on a weapons charge, the paper added.
Travis McMichael, 35, is Gregory's son.
In November 2020, at the Superior Court, Travis's mother, Lee McMichael, testified that he lived with her and his father.
She also told the court that he has a son – then aged four – and doesn’t have a passport, reported the Associated Press.
His attorneys cited his past service as a US Coast Guard mechanic as proof of his character.
Zachary Langford – a friend of Travis McMichael’s since boyhood – testified that his friend was a jokester who got along with everyone.
William 'Roddie' Bryan
William "Roddie" Bryan, 52, hails from just outside the port city of Brunswick.
The Georgia man's cell phone recorded the fatal shooting of Arbery, the unarmed Georgia jogger.
Attorney Kevin Gough, who is representing Bryan, released a public statement in 2020 saying that, "Roddie is a family man, Nascar fan, and enjoys rock and roll".
The McMichaels weren’t arrested until the cellphone footage of the shooting leaked online, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case.
In June 2020, a grand jury indicted both McMichaels and their neighbor, Bryan, on charges.
Gough, Bryan's lawyer, told USA Today that Bryan and his family – his two children and fiancee – have received "harassing and threatening communications" in the wake of Arbery's death.
The lawyer also said that Bryan had been fired from his job as a mechanic.
Gough added in 2020: "His family members have been harassed. They’re genuinely fearful.
"Here’s someone who videoed what happened. And for two months, he’s a witness.
"Overnight, he’s suddenly the target of the investigation. That’s a pretty big change of events."
He described Bryan as a "quiet man".
When cops responded to the shooting, Bryan led them to his car to watch his recorded footage, Gough said.
The attorney added that if his client hadn't filmed it, "the only version of what took place would have been coming from the two people with the guns".
What happened to Ahmaud Arbery?
Arbery was fatally shot on February 23, 2020, outside the Georgia port city of Brunswick.
Investigators allege that Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael, and William Bryan used their trucks to chase down 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery, who repeatedly reversed directions and ran into a ditch while trying to escape.
Travis got out of his truck and confronted Arbery, later telling police he shot him in self-defense after Arbery refused his order to get on the ground, according to authorities.
It is believed the first shot was to Arbery's chest, the second was to his hand, and the third was to his chest again before he collapsed.
Arbery “was chased, hunted down, and ultimately executed," according to special prosecutor Jesse Evans.
Special agent Richard Dial testified during a hearing that Travis told police he raised his shotgun at Arbery from 90 feet away and told him to get on the ground.
Arbery ran around the passenger side of Travis’ truck, and the two men met in front of the truck.
Dial said Travis told police Arbery “squared up” like he was going to attack.
Dial said: “There’s a statement that he might have had his hand on his shirt.
“Travis McMichael said his adrenaline was pumping and it all happened very quickly.”
Travis then fired the first shot into Arbery’s chest, according to Dial.
The agent was asked to consider whether Travis had fired in self-defense.
“I don't think it was self-defense by Mr McMichael," said Dial.
"I believe it was self-defense by Mr Arbery. … I believe Mr Arbery’s decision was to try to get away and he found he could not escape.”
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