Malice murder and felony murder: Here’s what jurors determined in the trial over Ahmaud Arbery’s killing

Gregory McMichael and William “Rudy” Brian Jr. were convicted on four and three counts of murders, respectively. Gregory’s son, Travis McMichael, was also found guilty of multiple counts of felony murder and was the only one of the three found guilty of premeditated murder.

Eli Honig, CNN’s chief legal analyst, said the difference between the hate count and felony murder has something to do with intent.

Hoenig said that the premeditated murder meant the jury decided that Travis McMichael, who was the accused who shot Arbery, intended to kill Arbery and did so. The convictions of Gregory McMichael and Brian of premeditated murder meant that they committed a felony.

Travis McMichael’s lawyers argued that he acted in self-defense when he shot Arbery. The three men suspected Arbery of committing a burglary and chased after him in their cars, before an altercation between Arbery and Travis McMichael captured on video led to Arbery’s death.

“His truck chase, fake imprisonment – as a result, whether they intended it or not, Ahmed Arbery was killed and that makes father and Rudy Bryan guilty of murder as well,” Honig said.

Prosecutor Linda Donekowski said during the trial that the men had alternative options – including not chasing Arbery or calling the police – but instead choosing to go after Arbery even after he repeatedly eluded them. She said they committed an aggravated assault with their trucks – and McMichaels, with their guns – while falsely trying to imprison Arbery.

Georgia criminal defense attorney Big Pat told CNN that the jury’s decisions between premeditated murder and felony murder made sense to him.

“In Georgia, premeditated murder, you have an intent to kill someone. Felony murder is that you don’t necessarily want to kill someone but you commit a crime and someone dies as a result,” Pat said.

He said the verdict shows “it was careful deliberation” by the jury on the case.

“Let’s put the facts together with the law and come up with what we feel was the right judgment, and I think it was the right judgment for this case,” Pat said.

The next stage moves to the pronouncement of judgment

Besides the murder charges, McMichaels was found guilty of two counts of aggravated assault, one count of false imprisonment and one count of felony attempted felony in Arbery’s death.

Brian was convicted of three counts of felony murder, one count of aggravated assault, one count of felony imprisonment, and one count of felony attempted felony. He was acquitted of the felony of premeditated murder, the felony of premeditated murder, and the felony of aggravated assault.

The men now face up to life in prison without the possibility of parole for each count of the murders, 20 years for each of the aggravated assault counts, 10 years for one count of false imprisonment, and 5 years for criminal attempt to commit a felony.

Judge Timothy Walmsley will decide whether the sentences are to be carried out consecutively or simultaneously. The date of pronouncement of the verdict has not yet been determined.

McMichaels and Bryan also face separate federal hate crime charges in a trial scheduled for February.

Federal prosecutors said following the April indictment that the three men “used force and threats of force to intimidate and interfere with Arbery’s right to use a public street because of his race.”

The three men pleaded not guilty to the federal charges.

CNN’s Alta Spells, Devon M. Sayers, Angela Barajas, and Eliott C. McLaughlin contributed to this report.


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