Three men are scheduled to be sentenced for murdering a jogger. Video showed gunman Travis McMichael, fatally shooting Ahmaud Arbery, 25, and it tapped into a fraught cultural fissure. Arbery was Black. McMichael, his father Greg McMichael, and William “Roddie” Bryan–who together chased the slain man down a street in Brunswick, Georgia, baselessly believing he committed a burglary–are white. Court is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. ET.
The defense maintained the three defendants were acting out of duty to protect their community and were only just trying to hold the slain man for law enforcement.
Travis McMichael’s lawyer Jason Sheffield argued his client acted in self-defense.
“Is there any question that Mr. Arbery had his hand on his firearm, any question at all?” he said. “There is no question that Ahmaud’s hands are on this gun.”
Assistant District Attorney Linda Dunikoski disparaged that idea in closing arguments, calling the McMichaels and Bryan “schoolyard bullies” throwing “one kid against the locker.” They provoked the fatal confrontation, she said. Though Arbery fought too, it was because the others started it, she said.
“They menacing him, threatening him, they get him on the locker and he’s trapped,” she said.
Arbery was seen at an open construction site of a property owned by Larry English. Dunikoski said this was trespassing, a misdemeanor. The state’s citizen’s arrest law at the time only pertained to felonies the citizen witnessed. Besides, English testified that it was “common” and “normal” for people to come and go from the property. He did not deputize the McMichaels or Bryan to confront people on his behalf. The property did not feature a sign prohibiting trespassing.
“This is the most traumatic event that I’ve ever been through in my life,” Travis McMichael said in his testimony.
Dunikoski threw the statement back at him during closings.
“I don’t dispute that it was likely the most traumatic experience of his life,” she said. “How did Mr. Arbery’s day go for him?”
[Image of Ahmaud Arbery via Attorney Benjamin Crump.]
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