(BRUNSWICK, Ga.) — A Georgia jury resumed deliberating on Wednesday the fates of three white men charged with trapping Ahmaud Arbery with their pickup trucks and fatally shooting him.
“Your oath requires that you will decide this case based on the evidence,” Judge Timothy Walmsley told the jury before sending the panel off to begin their deliberations on Tuesday.
The jury got the case after Linda Dunikoski, the Cobb County, Georgia, assistant district attorney appointed as a special prosecutor in the Glynn County case, took two hours to rebut the closing arguments made on Monday by attorneys for the three defendants.
The jury, 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 man running through their neighborhood had committed a burglary, while defense attorneys 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 24, 9:01 am
Jury resumes deliberations
The jury resumed its deliberations on Wednesday morning, after working a little over six hours on Tuesday.
The panel was called into the Glynn County courtroom around 8:30 a.m. and Judge Walmsley thanked them for their service and sent them off to continue their discussions.
Nov 23, 6:34 pm
Jury sent home for the night
After more than six hours of deliberations on Tuesday, the jury was sent home for the night.
Judge Timothy Walmsley sent the panel home after questioning the jury foreperson about the jury’s progress.
“We are in the process of working to reach a verdict,” the jury foreperson told Walmsley.
When Walmsley asked if a verdict was imminent, the foreperson said, “At this moment, I think breaking for the day would be the best option.”
The foreperson went back and conferred with the other jurors, who initially said they wanted to keep working. But minutes later, Walmsley called the jury into the courtroom and told the panel it was a good time to break for the day and sent them home.
Deliberations will resume at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday.
Nov 23, 11:34 am
Judge gives jury final instructions
Judge Timothy Walmsley read the jury final instructions and explained the law and each charge to the jury before sending the panel off to deliberate their verdicts.
Walmsley told the jury that they must reach a unanimous verdict beyond a reasonable doubt, explaining that does not mean “beyond all doubt” or to a “mathematical certainty.”
He reminded the jury that the defendants have all pleaded not guilty to the charges and that the burden of proof is solely on the prosecution.
Walmsley said that lesser charges could only be considered against William “Roddie” Bryan. He said the lesser charges against Bryan are simple assault, reckless conduct and reckless driving.
“Each of you must decide this case for yourself,” Walmsley said.
Nov 23, 10:56 am
Prosecutor pokes holes in Travis McMichael’s testimony
Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski suggested to the jury that Travis and Greg McMichael became angry at Ahmaud Arbery after he ignored their calls to stop when they pulled up alongside him during the pursuit.
Dunikoski attacked the testimony of Travis McMichael, pointing out inconsistencies and claims she alleged were concocted for the trial.
Dunikoski said neither Travis McMichael nor his father told police on the day of the shooting that they were trying to place Arbery under criminal arrest because they believed he had committed a burglary at a home under construction in their neighborhood.
The prosecutor cited Travis McMichael’s testimony that he thought his father had called 911 before they set out to chase Arbery.
“Does anybody believe that?” asked Dunikoski, suggesting that a dispatcher would have kept Greg McMichael on the line to get more information.
She scoffed at Travis McMichael’s claim on the witness stand that he didn’t know what his father yelled at Arbery as they chased him, including the alleged statement threatening to shoot Arbery.
She said Travis McMichael’s testimony was full of “maybes” and assumptions, including that Arbery may have committed a crime, that maybe he was caught.
“These are all maybes. He doesn’t know anything,” Dunikoski said.
Dunikoski also poked holes in Travis McMichael’s claim that he spoke to Arbery calmly during the pursuit, trying to get him to stop and answer questions about what he was doing in their neighborhood.
“Do you believe for a minute he was talking softly to Ahmaud Arbery?” Dunikoski asked the jury.
She played a 911 call Travis McMichael made after Arbery was cornered, and breathlessly reported his emergency that “A Black male was running down the street.” In the background of the call, Greg McMichael was heard yelling at Arbery, “Stop. Goddammit. Stop.”
The prosecutor wrapped up her rebuttal argument by telling the jury the defendants are all “parties to the crime” and asked the panel to convict them on all charges.
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