‘He will now rest in peace’: Three men found guilty of murder of unarmed black man Ahmaud Arbery in US


A jury has found three men guilty of the murder of black man Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot while jogging in the US state of Georgia in February 2020.

Key points:

  • The men face minimum sentences of life in prison
  • Defence attorneys contend the McMichaels were attempting a legal citizen's arrest when they set off after Mr Arbery
  • But prosecutors said there was no evidence Mr Arbery had committed crimes in the defendants' neighbourhood

The convictions for Greg McMichael, son Travis McMichael and neighbour William "Roddie" Bryan came after jurors deliberated for about 10 hours.

The McMichaels grabbed guns and jumped in a pick-up truck to pursue the 25-year-old man after seeing Mr Arbery running in their neighbourhood outside the Georgia port city of Brunswick.

Bryan joined the pursuit in his own truck and recorded a mobile phone video of Travis McMichael fatally shooting Mr Arbery.

The video leaked online two months later.

The convictions come as part of a larger national reckoning on racial injustice in the US.

A mural of Ahmaud Arbery painted on the side of The Brunswick African American Cultural Center in Brunswick, Georgia.(Reuters: Octavio Jones)

The men face minimum sentences of life in prison. It is up to the judge to decide whether that comes with or without the possibility of parole.

During the trial, the jury sent a note to Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley soon after returning to court Wednesday morning asking to view two versions of the shooting video, the original and one that investigators enhanced to reduce shadows.

Jurors returned to the courtroom to see the videos and listen again to the 911 call the defendants made from the bed of a pick-up truck about 30 seconds before the shooting.

The McMichaels told police they suspected Mr Arbery was a fleeing burglar when they armed themselves and jumped in a pick-up truck to chase him, with Bryan joining the pursuit when they passed his house.

Greg McMichael, Travis McMichael and William Bryan will face additional hate crime charges from federal authorities in February.(Reuters)

On the 911 call the jury reviewed, Greg McMichael tells an operator: "I'm out here in Satilla Shores. There's a black male running down the street."

He then starts shouting, apparently as Mr Arbery is running toward the McMichaels' idling truck with Bryan's truck coming up behind him: "Stop right there! Damn it, stop! Travis!" Gunshots can be heard a few seconds later.

Defence attorneys contend the McMichaels were attempting a legal citizen's arrest when they set off after Mr Arbery, seeking to detain and question him as a suspected burglar after he was seen running from a nearby home under construction.

Travis McMichael testified that he shot Arbery in self-defence, saying the running man turned and attacked with his fists while running past the idling truck where Travis McMichael stood with his shotgun.

Prosecutors said there was no evidence Mr Arbery had committed crimes in the defendants' neighbourhood.

He had enrolled at a technical college and was preparing to study to become an electrician like his uncles.

Though prosecutors did not argue that racism motivated the killing, federal authorities have charged the men with hate crimes, alleging they chased and killed Mr Arbery because he was black.

That case is scheduled to go to trial in February.

Family welcomes verdict Ahmaud Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, says her son can now rest in peace.(AP: Stephen B. Morton, Pool)

Moments after the verdicts were announced, Mr Arbery's father, Marcus Arbery Sr, was seen crying and hugging supporters outside the courtroom.

"He didn't do nothing but run and dream," he said.

Ben Crump, the attorney for Mr Arbery's father, spoke outside the courthouse, saying repeatedly: "The spirit of Ahmaud defeated the lynch mob."

Mr Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, thanked the crowd gathered outside the courthouse and said she did not think she would see this day.

"It's been a long fight. It's been a hard fight. But God is good," she said.

Of her son, she said: "He will now rest in peace."

AP

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news




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