(Trends Wide) — Closing arguments begin Monday in the trial for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, after jurors heard from more than 20 witnesses, including the man who shot and killed the 25-year-old runner.
Travis McMichael, who took the stand last week, his father Gregory McMichael and his neighbor William Bryan Jr, are facing charges including malicious murder and felony in the death of Arbery, a black man who was persecuted by the trio on February 23, 2020, in the Satilla Shores neighborhood near Brunswick, Georgia.
Defense attorneys say the McMichaels were attempting to arrest Arbery citizen, whom they suspected of robbing after they and several neighbors became concerned about individuals breaking into a nearby home under construction. Bryan, after seeing the McMichaels chasing Arbery, tried to cut him off, followed him and recorded video of the chase and the shooting with his mobile phone, the defense said. The younger McMichael testified that he shot Arbery in self-defense while fighting for McMichael’s shotgun. All three defendants have pleaded not guilty.
Arbery’s family has said he was out for a run when he was killed, and authorities said he was unarmed. Prosecutors said the defendants located and killed Arbery “based on assumptions.”
The jury is expected to begin deliberating soon on the fate of the three white men accused of the murder, and then we review what we heard during testimony.
Travis McMichael said he was attacked by Arbery
The youngest of the McMichaels took the stand as the first defense witness and told the court that he felt he was in a “life and death situation” when he shot Arbery.
Early in her testimony, she said there was a growing level of crime, including car thefts, in the neighborhood where she lived with her parents in the 18 months before Arbery’s murder.
Other residents stated that they were aware of the petty crime incidents in the neighborhood. One of them said that they had started more than 15 years ago. Another neighbor, Sube Lawrence, said she kept up with crime on a neighborhood Facebook page and that a neighbor alerted her if there was a “suspicious person loitering” at the nearby home under construction, so that Lawrence could take his friends. children inside.
Travis McMichael testified that on February 11, 2020, he saw someone ‘”crawling through the shadows” in the neighborhood, got out of his truck and was confronted by a black man, who he said appeared to be reaching into his pocket. Travis McMichael assumed the man was armed, jumped back into his vehicle and the person ran toward the home under construction, he testified. The younger McMichael said he called police and returned home with his father. Authorities never saw, spoke to or captured the person he claimed to have seen that night, he said.
On the day of the shooting, the eldest McMichael walked into their home and said, “The guy who’s been breaking into the street just passed by the house, something’s happened,” Travis McMichael said.
The father and son got into their truck and eventually caught up with Arbery, who was running through the neighborhood, and Travis McMichael made at least two attempts to talk to him while they were still in his vehicle. He testified that Arbery did not speak to him, but ran off again after Travis McMichael mentioned that the police were coming.
The youngest of the McMichaels testified about the path they took through the neighborhood as they followed Arbery, adding that at one point he realized there was another truck near Arbery, and saw the racer apparently “grabbing” the vehicle. Prosecutors contend that Bryan, the third defendant, got into his truck and joined the chase without knowing what was going on and hit Arbery with his vehicle.
Under questioning by prosecutor Linda Dunikoski, the defendant acknowledged that he never saw Arbery armed during the chase, that he never heard Arbery threaten him verbally, and that Arbery never responded or showed interest in speaking with McMichael.
At the end of the chase, and after Travis McMichael got out and pointed his gun at Arbery as he ran in his direction, he testified that he reached the front of his truck, where he made first contact with Arbery. Travis McMichael testified that Arbery grabbed the shotgun and hit him.
“I shot him,” he told the court. “He had my gun, he hit me, it was obvious … that he was attacking me, that if he had gotten the shotgun, then it was a life and death situation.”
Investigators reveal what defendants said in interviews after shooting
Glynn County Police Department Detective Parker Marcy testified that Gregory McMichael told him that he never saw Arbery commit a crime.
The detective read a transcript of an interview he conducted with the elder McMichael after the shooting, in which he quoted him as saying that he had seen videos of the house under construction and that he had seen a person who appeared to be Arbery “entering, or standing , or wandering around “the place, adding that the house hadn’t had doors or windows for” well over a year. “
“I don’t think the guy stole anything from there or, if he did, it was early in this process,” the detective quoted McMichael as saying. The detective testified that Gregory McMichael told him that he used his son’s phone during the chase on the day of the shooting to call 911 and said that if Arbery had stopped running they planned to hold him, but did not use the words “arrest”, “citizen arrest “or” stop, “nor did he say why Arbery would be arrested.
Glynn County Sheriff Jeff Brandeberry, who also interviewed Gregory McMichael, said the latter never used the words “arrest”, “detain” or “search” when speaking at the scene of the shooting.
Roderic Nohilly, a Glynn County, Georgia police sergeant also testified that Gregory McMichael did not know during police questioning whether Arbery had committed a crime before he was pursued.
Homeowner Says He Didn’t Ask McMichaels To Take Care Of The Place
The center of the case has been a house under construction in the Satilla Shores neighborhood, which residents had reportedly grown concerned about the entry of people. A resident testified that she saw a “very tall” black man standing in the doorway of the home sometime in late 2019 or early 2020. For a long time, the home had no doors or windows, witnesses testified.
The home’s owner, Larry English Jr., testified in a Sept. 24 statement (he previously told the court that a serious medical condition prevented him from testifying in person) that surveillance footage on his property captured people multiple times late. of 2019 and early 2020, and in some cases, called 911.
English testified that he called authorities in October 2019 to report an individual he described as “a colored guy” with curly hair and tattoos who was “investigating out there.” He called again in November 2019 when he saw a white couple break into his property, and told police: “They stole from us … some things a week and a half ago, two weeks there.” He called authorities a day later and said he saw the “same guy who was there about a week and a half, two weeks ago” at the construction site.
English was asked if anything of his work had ever been taken, to which he replied, “Not that I know of.”
He stated that he never authorized the McMichaels to confront anyone in his work. He said that although he did not post the surveillance images on social media, it is possible that he showed them to Matt Albenze, a resident of the neighborhood.
Albenze testified during the trial that on the day of the shooting he called the police from his home after seeing Arbery “standing, looking” at the yard of the house under construction, saying that the man in the yard made him think on the video that English showed him.
He said he went into his home to retrieve his firearm and phone, called the police, and when he came back out, he was able to see Arbery at the home under construction but couldn’t see what he was doing.
He stated that Arbery then left and that Albenze entered his home without speaking to anyone else. He said he heard gunshots a few minutes later.
Bryan told the agent that he felt “instinctively” that Arbery had done something wrong.
Bryan’s attorney, Kevin Gough, said during a delayed initial statement that his client joined the chase without intent to harm Arbery and did not attempt to assault the racer with his vehicle. The attorney pointed to surveillance video showing Bryan on his front porch when he noticed Arbery running past, with the McMichaels chasing, saying Bryan quietly entered their home and recovered his cell phone and vehicle keys. , not your rifle.
Deputy Special Agent in Charge of the Georgia Office of Investigation (GBI) Jason Seacrist testified earlier at trial that Bryan told him during an interview in May 2020 that he was on his porch when the sound of someone running and the engine of a vehicle caught his attention.
Bryan told the agent that he had said, “Got it? Do you need help?” and then grabbed her keys to go see what was going on and if she could help, according to a transcript of the interview read by the agent.
Bryan said he tried to stop Arbery during the chase to take a photo of him, so that “in the end something would happen and he would not run away and the police would not know who he was.”
Seacrist testified that he asked Bryan why police would need to know who Arbery was.
“Because I assumed I had done something wrong,” Bryan replied. The agent asked Bryan what made him think that Arbery had done something wrong.
“It was just an instinct, I don’t know,” Bryan said, according to the interview transcript. “I figured I had stolen something,” he added later.
With information from Devon M. Sayers and Alta Spells.