After four hours, a jury in Brunswick, Georgia found Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael, and neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan guilty of attempted kidnapping and violation of civil rights, and the McMichaels were additionally charged with the use of a firearm to commit a crime. All three men were sentenced up to life in prison as well as given fines.
The defense attorneys argued that the defendants had sanctioned reasons to pursue Arbery. Arbery had been running from the direction of an under-construction house, and the McMichaels suspected he had trespassed the area several times, and stolen items from it. The defense attorneys didn’t deny the defendants’ use of derogatory language or offensive media, but they said the defendants didn’t chase and kill Arbery because of his race, rather they thought Arbery had done something wrong. Travis McMichael claimed he shot Ahmaud Arbery in self-defense as they wrestled over his shotgun.
Federal prosecutors argued that Bryan and the McMichaels targeted Arbery because of his race. Christopher Perras, a prosecutor, asked “If Ahmaud was another white person jogging, would this have happened in the way that it did? If Ahmaud hadn’t been using public streets, would this have happened the way it did?” Perras also noted that the defendants acted on assumption, anger, and resentment towards the Black community when they saw Arbery run by. To back this claim up, the prosecutors had evidence of private and public occurrences where the three men used racial slurs, inflammatory language, and violent media.
February 23 is officially Ahmaud Arbery day in Georgia.