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Ahmaud Arbery death trial updates: Closing arguments set to begin

ahmaud-arbery-death-trial-updates:-closing-arguments-set-to-begin
Stephen B. Morton – Pool/Getty Images

(BRUNSWICK, Ga.) — A jury is expected to begin deliberating the fates of three white Georgia men charged in the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery after first hearing final arguments on Monday that the 25-year-old Black man was either “hunted down” and murdered or was killed in self-defense when he resisted a citizens’ arrest.

The radically different theories based on the same evidence are expected to be laid out in closing arguments set to commence Monday morning in Glynn County Superior Court in Brunswick, Georgia. The closing arguments are expected to take all day as the prosecutor and attorneys for the three defendants are each expected to speak to the jury.

The jury is expected to begin deliberations on Tuesday morning.

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.

The charges stem from a Feb. 23, 2020, confrontation in the Stella Shores neighborhood near Brunswick, Georgia. Lead prosecutor Linda Dunikoski alleged in her opening statement that a series of wrong “assumptions and driveway decisions” led the men to surmise that the Black man she said was just jogging through their neighborhood on a balmy Sunday afternoon was a burglar they needed to detain at gunpoint.

Travis McMichael was the only defendant to testify during the nationally-televised trial.

He described a “life-or-death” encounter with Arbery and claimed he had no choice but to shoot the man with his Remington pump-action shotgun. He also conceded under cross-examination that Arbery never verbally threatened him or his co-defendants nor did he brandished a weapon during the five minutes Dunikoski said Arbery was running for his life.

During the trial, prosecutors relied heavily on a cellphone video recorded by Bryan. The video repeatedly played for the jury showed the unarmed Arbery trapped between Bryan’s pickup and Travis McMichael’s truck and partly captured a struggle that ended with Travis Michael shooting Arbery.

The trial, which began on Nov. 5, began with controversy when a jury of 11 white members and one Black member was seated to hear the case after a nearly three-week jury selection process.

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