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Georgia Grand Jury Indicts Three Men on Nine Counts Each in Death of Ahmaud Arbery


From top left, counter clockwise: Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael, William Bryan

A grand jury in Glynn Co., Georgia, has indicted suspects Travis McMichael, Greg McMichael and William R. Bryan, Jr. on nine counts each in the alleged murder of Ahmaud Arbery, 25, on Feb. 23 this year.

The indictment, announced Wednesday by Cobb District Attorney Joyette M. Holmes, who is handling the case, accused each of the three men of malice murder, four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.

The indictments upgrade the previous charges against all three defendants.  According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Bryan was originally arrested on charges of felony murder and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.  The McMichaels were originally charged with murder and aggravated assault.

READ the full indictment below.

Malice murder, the top charge, is a killing with “malice aforethought” under Georgia law — in other words, “intent” and “malice.”  A 1975 Georgia Supreme Court case illustrates the line between felony murder and malice murder:

Felony murder involves a nonintentional killing committed in the prosecution of a felony. It is still murder and is subject to the same penalties as “malice murder.” The only difference is the absence of intent and malice.

The felony murders alleged against the three defendants in the Arbery case are predicated upon two alleged aggravated assaults, one alleged false imprisonment, and one alleged attempt to commit false imprisonment.

The final count against all three men alleges that their decision to confront Arbery was illegal:

[S]aid accused did, in violation of the personal liberty of Ahmaud Arbery, unlawfully chase Ahmaud Arbery through the public roadways of the Satilla Shores neighborhood in pickup trucks and did attempt to confine and detain Ahmaud Arbery without legal authority on Burford Drive using a Ford F-150 pickup truck and a Chevy Silverado pickup truck, contrary to the laws of said State, the good order, peace and dignity thereof.

Holmes heralded the indictments.

“This is another step forward in seeking justice for Ahmaud. Our team from the Cobb Judicial Circuit has been committed to effectively bringing forward the evidence in this case and today was no exception,” Holmes said in a news release. “It has been an effort of many agencies including the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice who have worked together to get to this point. We will continue to be intentional in the pursuit of justice for this family and the community at large as the prosecution of this case continues.”

Holmes said the grand jury was able to meet pursuant to a state supreme court judicial emergency guideline which allowed “time-sensitive essential matters” where “social distancing and other public health guidance” measures were followed.

The defendants will be arraigned before Judge Timothy R. Walmsley, Holmes said.

Bob Rubin, an attorney for Travis McMichael, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the DA only presented one side of the case to the grand jury.  “There’s more to this than has been revealed to the grand jury and we expect to plead not guilty to these charges and present the rest of the evidence in court,” he said.

Ahmaud Arbery Case – Grand Jury Indictment – June 20, 2020 by Law&Crime on Scribd

Editor’s note:  this piece, which began as a breaking news report, has been updated.

[images via mugshots]

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Aaron Keller holds a juris doctor degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law and a broadcast journalism degree from Syracuse University. He is a former anchor and executive producer for the Law&Crime Network and is now deputy editor-in-chief for the Law&Crime website. DISCLAIMER:  This website is for general informational purposes only. You should not rely on it for legal advice. Reading this site or interacting with the author via this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. This website is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. Speak to a competent lawyer in your jurisdiction for legal advice and representation relevant to your situation.