Ahmaud Arbery killing trial: Jury set to begin second day of deliberations

The jury reviewed the case for more than six hours on Tuesday after the prosecution filed an appeal to the defense’s closing arguments. The court will resume at 8:30 a.m. ET.

Three men — Travis McMichael, his father Gregory McMichael, and neighbor William “Rudy” Brian Jr. — stand trial on charges related to the shooting of Arbery in the Satella Shores neighborhood outside Brunswick, Georgia, on February 23, 2020.

Each defendant faces nine separate charges, including felony and premeditated murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and criminal attempt to commit a felony. If a jury finds Brian not guilty of a second count of aggravated assault, they can consider three less misdemeanor counts of petty assault, reckless conduct or reckless driving.

The accused pleaded not guilty of all charges against them. The McMichael family claimed that they were carrying out a citizen arrest after Arbery was suspected of burglary at a nearby home under construction, and that Travis McMichael acted in self-defense by shooting Arbery. Brian confirms that he is innocent of any wrongdoing.

If the jury’s deliberations continue beyond Wednesday, the court will postpone the Thanksgiving holiday and may resume deliberations on Friday and Saturday if necessary.

Authorities are preparing for all possible outcomes following a ruling regarding the public’s reaction, which has been ushered in a trial that has been constantly revolving around issues of self-defense and race.

“We plan for the worst, but we hope for the best. But we try to come up with contingencies for the many different scenarios that could unfold as a result of the ruling,” said Glenn County Police Department Captain Jeremiah Bergquist, who was also the head of the local task force unit that oversees public safety. during the trial.

Prosecutors gave refutation Tuesday

Lawyers for each of the three defendants offered different arguments on Monday as to why their clients were not found guilty.

Besides Travis McMichael’s central argument for self-defense, Gregory McMichael’s attorney Laura Hogg has repeatedly claimed that Arbery was a habitual trespasser in the area, and said that jurors should consider that Gregory McMichael had a reasonable doubt in Arbery to act.

Kevin Gough, Brian’s attorney, said that Brian was a witness more than anything else and that the video clip showing the shooting enabled the case to move forward.

The lead prosecutor, Linda Donikowski, Tuesday brought a rebuttal from the attorney general, who assured the jury that the men acted on suspicion only and had no evidence that Arbery had committed a crime. She added that Travis McMichael also had inconsistencies in testimony in court when compared to statements made to police immediately after the shooting.

Donikowski said the three men are responsible for the charges against them because they could have de-escalated the situation by calling the police or not chasing Arbery. Instead, she said, the men committed a severe assault with their trucks when chasing Arbery and falsely trying to imprison her, leading to the moment Travis McMichael shot and killed Arbery.

“If I take it out, will he be alive?” I asked the Arbery jury. “It is really simple. The answer is that you cannot eliminate any of these crimes. If you eliminate any of these crimes they committed and he is still alive. All the basic felonies played a fundamental and necessary role in causing Ahmet Arbery’s death.”

Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, said Tuesday after court proceedings that Dunikoski “did a fantastic job” in her final refutation.

“The evidence has again been presented very well. I think we will come back with a guilty verdict, and I want to leave with this: God has brought us this far, and he will not let us down now. We will get justice,” she told reporters.

Marcus Arbery Sr., Arbery’s father, said what he saw in the courtroom was “devastating,” but he also expressed confidence in getting a guilty verdict.

After the jury began to deliberate, Travis McMichael’s attorney, Jason Sheffield, said, “I feel very confident in our case. I feel very confident in the evidence of Travis’ innocence,” adding, “We will accept the verdict whatever it is.”

Gregory McMichael, left, is seen Tuesday in Glenn County Courthouse in Brunswick, Georgia.

The composition of the jury was a source of contention

Nine white women, two white men and a black man serve on the primary jury, with two white women and a white man serving as the alternate juror, according to a CNN analysis of jury data.

Having only one black juror has been a major complaint from prosecutors and the Arbery family, with Glynn County’s population of about 69% white and 26% black, according to 2019 data from the US Census Bureau. Arbery was black and the accused were white.

The 12-member jury and three alternates were selected after a lengthy two-and-a-half week jury selection process that involved summoning 1,000 potential jurors from the coastal community of South Georgia. Of those summoned, less than half attended.
What we learned from testifying at the trial for the murder of Ahmet Arbery
The composition of the jury was challenged by the state at the conclusion of the jury selection process. Donikowski alleged that defense attorneys disproportionately beat qualified black jurors and based some of their strikes on race.
“This court found that there appeared to be intentional discrimination,” said Judge Timothy Walmsley, but ruled that the case could proceed with the selected jurors because the defense was able to provide valid reasons, beyond race, as to why other black jurors were dismissed.
Defense attorneys also contested the presence of fewer older white men without college degrees in the jury pool, saying that the demographic was underrepresented.

Elliott C. McLaughlin, Angela Barajas, Adrian Vogt and Jed Gordon contributed to this report.

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