(BRUNSWICK, Ga.) — The lead prosecutor got the final word on Tuesday before a Georgia jury is to begin deliberating the fates of three white men charged with trapping Ahmaud Arbery with their pickup trucks and fatally shooting the 25-year-old Black man.
Linda Dunikoski, the Cobb County, Georgia, assistant district attorney appointed as a special prosecutor in the Glynn County case, is expected to take up to two hours to rebut the closing arguments made on Monday by attorneys for the three defendants.
The jury is expected to be given the case to begin deliberations following Dunikoski’s presentation and final jury instructions from the judge.
The panel, comprised of 11 white people and one Black person, heard wildly different summations on Monday of the same evidence in the racially-charged case. Dunikoski alleged the defendants pursued and murdered Arbery because of wrong assumptions they made that the Black running through their neighborhood had committed a burglary, while defense attorney’s countered that Arbery was shot in self-defense when he resisted a citizen’s arrest.
Travis McMichael, the 35-year-old U.S. Coast Guard veteran; his father, Gregory McMichael, 65, a retired Glynn County police officer, and their neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, 53, each face maximum sentences of life in prison if convicted on all the charges.
The defendants have pleaded not guilty to a nine-count state indictment that includes malice murder, multiple charges of felony murder, false imprisonment, aggravated assault with a 12-gauge shotgun and aggravated assault with their pickup trucks.
The McMichaels and Bryan were also indicted on federal hate crime charges in April and have all pleaded not guilty.
Here’s how the news developed. All times Eastern:
Nov 23, 10:03 am
Defense attorneys call for a mistrial
As prosecutor Linda Dunikoski continued her rebuttal argument, defense attorneys for Greg and Travis McMichael objected several times, accusing Dunikoski of misstating the law that pertains to citizen’s arrest.
After one of the defense attorneys called for a mistrial in front of the jury, Judge Walmsley sent the panel out of the courtroom.
Walmsley appeared frustrated at all the interruptions to Dunikoski’s rebuttal, saying, “I like to get the closing arguments done.”
Walmsley denied the motion for a mistrial, telling the attorneys, “I indicated the law is going to be provided to the panel. I’ve indicated the court’s position with respect to the law.”
Nov 23, 9:42 am
‘This isn’t the Wild West’: Prosecutor
Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski went through the felony counts against the defendants, telling the jury that the evidence shows they are guilty of each charge, including malice murder.
“This isn’t the Wild West,” Dunikoski said, referring to the actions the McMichaels and Bryan allegedly took.
“But for the criminal intent at false imprisonment, but for the false imprisonment, but for the assault with the motor vehicles, but for the aggravated assault with the shotgun, he (Arbery) wouldn’t be dead. That’s how you think about it,” Dunikoski said. “You can’t take out any of these crimes. You take out any one of these crimes that they committed and he’s still alive.”
Dunikoski added, “All of the underlying felonies played a substantial and necessary part in causing the death of Ahmaud Arbery.”
Nov 23, 9:18 am
‘Ignorance of the law is no excuse’: Prosecutor
Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski began her rebuttal argument by telling the jury she wants to make sure “we are on the same page as far as the facts and the law goes.”
She said the law requires “a fair-minded and impartial juror to honestly seek the truth.”
“In other words, do you think they committed the crimes? That’s all you need. Oh, if you go, ‘Yeah, I think they committed the crimes, you’re good. That’s all you need.”
Dunikoski’s statement prompted objections from the defense attorneys that she was misstating the law. Judge Timothy Walmsley told the jury he will instruct them on the law once Dunikoski is finished.
The prosecutor then told the jury that “ignorance of the law is no excuse.”
“If you’re going to take the law into your own hands, you better know what the law is,” Dunikoski said, referring to the laws of self-defense and citizen’s arrests that the defendants are claiming.
“The state is not saying that Greg and Travis McMichael ran out of their house to go murder him,” Dunikoski said. “It started out as one thing and it escalated and it escalated until it became murder.”
Nov 22, 8:30 pm
Jury sent home for the night
After Kevin Gough, the attorney for William “Roddie” Bryan, wrapped up his closing argument, Dunikoski informed the judge that she’d need another two hours to present her rebuttal argument.
Judge Walmsley polled the jury and they said they didn’t want to stay longer.
Dunikoski will present her rebuttal argument on Tuesday morning before the jury is given final instructions on the law and sent to begin deliberations.
Court will resume at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, about a half-hour earlier than usual.
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