A jury in Georgia has found Greg McMichael, his son Travis McMichael and neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan guilty in the death of Ahmaud Arbery. Arbery, 25, was shot and killed on February 23 last year after he was confronted by McMichael and his son, Travis, while he was jogging outside Brunswick in Georgia.
The older McMichael, who is a retired cop, had told officers that they had chased Arbery in a truck after he thought Arbery looked like a suspect who had been connected to a number of burglaries in the Brunswick area. The third defendant, Bryan, also followed Arbery in a different truck and filmed the fatal encounter. The three White men were later arrested and charged in connection with the killing.
Prosecutors said Arbery’s death was racially motivated. However, the defense said the three men were trying to hold Arbery in a citizen’s arrest after they suspected him of burglarizing a home. They said Arbery was shot in self-defense after a struggle ensued over Travis McMichael’s gun.
According to the Associated Press, a nine-count indictment charged all three men with one count of malice murder, four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, one count of false imprisonment and one count of criminal attempt to commit a felony, in this case, false imprisonment.
Travis McMichael was found guilty on all charges, including malice murder, four counts of felony murder and false imprisonment. His dad Greg McMichael was found not guilty on one count of malice murder but was convicted of all other charges he faced. Their neighbor Bryan was convicted of two counts of felony murder, one count of aggravated assault, one count of false imprisonment and one count of criminal attempt to commit a felony.
A sentencing date will be set. It’s not clear when Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley will set a sentencing date. But the Associated Press reports that when they are sentenced, they face a minimum penalty of life in prison on the murder convictions. It could be with or without parole. A sentence which is life with parole means they must serve 30 years before they become eligible for release.
The trio also face a term of at least one year but no more than 20 years for the aggravated assault convictions. False imprisonment is punishable by a sentence of one to 10 years in prison, according to the Associated Press.
Appeals have not been ruled out. A basis for an appeal could be the exclusion of certain evidence from the trial, the Associated Press reported. It said the defense wanted to introduce Arbery’s criminal record and the fact that he was on probation when he was murdered. However, the judge ruled against admitting any of that evidence.
The trio also face federal hate crime charges
A federal grand jury indicted the three men in April. Jury selection in that trial will start in February. The three men are charged with one count of interference with civil rights and attempted kidnapping. Greg McMichaels and his son also face charges of using, carrying and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence.
According to the Associated Press, the federal indictment says the three men targeted Arbery because he was Black.