BRUNSWICK, Ga. — After nearly 12 hours of deliberation, the jury found Travis McMichael, his father Gregory McMichael and William ‘Roddie’ Bryan guilty of murder in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery on Wednesday afternoon.
Action News Jax reported in February 2020 when the 25-year-old Black man was chased by the men in vehicles through a Brunswick neighborhood and shot and killed by the younger McMichael.
For Travis McMichael, the man who fired the shots that killed Arbery, the jury found him guilty on all counts: 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.
Gregory McMichael, a former investigator, was found guilty of all charges except malice murder. The jury found him guilty on the following charges: 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.
William “Roddie” Bryan, the man officials said recorded the viral video showing Arbery’s final moments, was found guilty on three counts of felony murder, one count of aggravated assault, one count of false imprisonment and one count of criminal attempt to commit a felony.
WATCH: Law & Safety Expert Dale Carson weighs in on the impact the guilty verdicts have on the justice system in the U.S.
WATCH: Ahmaud Arbery’s parents speak after McMichaels, Bryan found guilty in their son’s murder
WATCH: Rev. Al Sharpton speaks after 3 men found guilty in Ahmaud Arbery’s killing
WATCH: Prosecutors speak after 3 men found guilty of murder in killing of Ahmaud Arbery
See previous trial updates below:
Wednesday, Nov. 24:
Judge Timothy Walmsley said the jury submitted a question Wednesday morning.
Just after 9:30 a.m., the judge read the question aloud: “We the jury request to see the following videos three times each:”
- Original video, short version
- Enhanced high-contrast version
Media inside the courtroom reports the jury was likely referring to Bryan’s cellphone video of the shooting and its variants.
The jury also asked to have the 911 call Gregory McMichael made on Feb. 23 played back.
Counsel clarified exactly which exhibits were being asked for before the jury was brought back in for playback.
Three jurors sat in the jury box to review the evidence while the rest sat in the gallery, where there is another screen against the wall.
While the jury continued deliberating, the Rev. Al Sharpton spoke outside of the Glynn County Courthouse, standing alongside the Arbery family and their lawyers. “This has been the most racist, languished court case I’ve seen,” Sharpton said.
Tuesday, Nov. 23:
The fate of the three men accused of killing Arbery now rest in the jury’s hands. The state completed its rebuttal Tuesday morning and Judge Timothy Walmsley officially released the jury for deliberations.
The jury got the case just before noon and deliberated for about six hours before Walmsley adjourned the jurors for the day. They will resume deliberations at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.
The defendants each face the following charges:
- Malice murder
- Felony murder (4 counts)
- Aggravated assault (2 counts)
- False imprisonment
- Criminal attempt to commit a felony
Action News Jax’s law and safety expert Dale Carson weighs in on how challenging it can be for the jury when there are so many charges for the suspects.
Monday, Nov. 22:
The jury listened for hours as attorneys began closing arguments. Attorneys presented different views of what happened that fateful date Arbery was killed.
The prosecution said Arbery was under attack by men who chased after him in their pickup trucks. Fefense attorneys painted a different picture, saying Travis McMichael, his father, Gregory and their neighbor William ‘Roddie’ Bryan were making a citizens arrest. They claim they shot Arbery in self defense.
During her closing argument, Linda Dunikoski the state of Georgia’s lead prosecutor, laid out all of the charges for jurors and went after the defense’s claim that Arbery was a threat to the men.
“They’re going to try and convince you that Ahmaud Arbery was the attacker, that he was somehow threatening to them. Three on one, two pickup trucks, two guns. Mr. Arbery, nothing in his pockets, not a cell phone, not a gun, not even an ID. They want you to believe that he is a danger to them,” Dunikoski said.
Friday, Nov. 19:
Lawyers for defendant William “Roddie” Bryan, the man authorities said recorded the video showing Arbery’s final moments, have asked the prosecution for a plea deal, Arbery family attorney Lee Merritt shared with CBS News, but the prosecution " turned it down - flat out.”
Merritt told the news station that he believes the request means Bryan is “concerned about the strength of the state’s case.”
While entering the courtroom Friday morning, Kevin Gough, the attorney for Bryan, denied the claim, saying, “It’s (expletive).”
Gough also texted Action News Jax’s Kristen Rary, stating, “Denied. Did not happen,” of the reported plea deal request.
Thursday, Nov. 18:
The defenses for Travis McMichael, Greg McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan rested on Thursday afternoon.
The prosecutors chose no rebuttal. Judge Timothy Walmsley set a charging conference for 10 a.m. Friday and the jury is set to return Monday at 9 a.m.
Travis McMichael took stand for his second day of testimony as faith leaders gathered outside the Glynn County Courthouse in support of Arbery’s family. Up to 1,000 estimated clergy members participated in a march and a prayer circle.
Action News Jax has learned that William “Roddie” Bryan will not be testifying at this point. His attorney has filed an official motion asking for prominent members of the community to not be allowed in the gallery. This comes as hundreds of pastors are gathering outside the courthouse.
The judge said he has already ruled on those motions twice and will not be addressing the motion again as the court’s position is already on the record.
Wednesday, Nov. 17:
The defense began its case after the state rested on Wednesday.
Travis McMichael, the defendant who fired the shotgun that killed Ahmaud Arbery, took the stand Wednesday as defense attorneys began presenting their case in the murder trial of three men, saying, “I want to give my side of the story.”
Travis McMichael told Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley he understands that he is not compelled to testify but said, “I want to explain what happened.”
McMichael’s testimony came as defense attorneys opened their case by building on arguments that their clients were lawfully trying to stop burglaries in their neighborhood in Georgia. The three defendants are white. Arbery was Black.
Tuesday, Nov. 16:
The state has rested its case in the trial of three men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery after 8 days of testimony.
Jurors will return to the Glynn County courthouse Wednesday at 10 a.m.
Travis McMichael, his father Gregory McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan Jr., face charges in the death of Arbery, a Black man who was chased by the men in vehicles through a Brunswick neighborhood and shot and killed by the younger McMichael in February 2020.
Monday, Nov. 15:
Civil rights leader, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, joined family members and sat in court Monday morning to watch part of the murder trial for the death of Ahmaud Arbery.
Jackson showed up in court less than a week after defense attorney Kevin Gough asked the judge to bar more Black pastors from the courtroom. That was following an appearance last week by the Rev. Al Sharpton. On Monday, Gough doubled down on his request with Jackson’s appearance.
Jackson came into the courthouse Monday accompanied by Marcus Arbery, Ahmaud Arbery’s father, and other members of the Arbery family. Jackson’s presence is no surprise after last week’s comments from Gough that brought national attention to the defense in the trial.
Gough, who is the attorney for William “Roddie” Bryan, made a comment Thursday that he wanted the court to bar any more Black pastors from sitting with the Arbery family. Civil rights leaders outside the courthouse were shocked and some representatives for the Arbery family said they would call 100 Black pastors to Brunswick this week.
Gough apologized Friday morning, but said he would be following up Monday. As court began, Jackson arrived to the courthouse in a show of solidarity with the family and Gough began the morning making comments on the situation.
“We would ask that the court for the purpose of the record, for the rest of trial, have the sheriff, bailiff, whoever the court direct, keep track … Identify and keep track of the individuals of the gallery. In the court. Not the jury assembly, in the courtroom. Looking to the back of the court room to the right hand side. My understanding In a case like this, that would be best practice,” Gough said.
Gough added he argues the attorneys are entitled to that record through the Fifth Amendment. Judge Timothy Walmsley ruled against the motion. After a morning recess, Gough doubled down, asking that Jackson not be allowed in the courtroom. Walmsley once again said he cannot bar one person and he would not.
Defense attorneys for Bryan, as well as Greg McMichael and Travis McMichael, also asked for a mistrial in response to the mother of Ahmaud Arbery crying out during witness testimony. After a brief discussion, Walmsley decided not to grant a mistrial.
Friday, Nov. 12:
Officer Robert Rash took the stand as a witness on Friday. Rash was in direct contact with the owner of a home in Satilla Shores that Ahmaud Arbery frequently went to check out.
Attorney Kevin Gough also apologized for his comments the day before saying the presence of Black pastors could be seen as intimidating to the jury.
Trial in Ahmaud Arbery’s killing: Grim photos, police testimony dominate Week 1
“My apologies to anyone who might’ve been inadvertently offended,” Gough said.
The trial is expected to move into next week with the hope that it will wrap up by next Friday.
Thursday, Nov. 11:
Larry English via deposition was Thursday’s witness. English is the owner of the home that was under construction that Arbery was seen on video looking at. The judge let the jury know that testimony will be presented via deposition and should be considered like any other testimony.
In today’s trial, Kevin Gough, the defense attorney for Williams “Roddie” Bryan, said the court should not allow any more Black pastors into the courtroom. According to Gough, they are distracting and pressuring the jury. This comes after Reverend Al Sharpton made an appearance on Wednesday.
“The idea that we are going to be seriously bringing these people in with the victim’s family — one after another — obviously there’s only so many pastors they can have,” Gough said. “And if their pastor is Al Sharpton right now, that’s fine. But that’s it. We don’t want any more Black pastors coming in here.”
The judge quickly shot the motion down after the other defense attorneys and the state declined to support the motion.
Wednesday, Nov. 10:
After hearing from first responders all week, a neighbor took the stand.
Attorneys were able to question the witness to give jurors a clearer idea of what led up to the McMichaels getting into their truck armed with guns to chase Arbery.
The neighbor, Matthew Albenze, was not present for the actual shooting, but has been referenced several times throughout the trial.
Albenze lives just down the street from the home under construction that Arbery would walk through and after the owner of the home showed him a video of Arbery in the home and expressed concern, he decided to call the police when he saw him back in the open house.
Attorney: “Why didn’t you dial 911?
Albenze: “I did not see an emergency.”
Albenze was the first person to make a phone call to Glynn County police the day Arbery was shot. Attorneys questioned him about why he made that call.
Non-emergency line operator: “And you say someone’s breaking in right now?”
Albenze: “No, it’s all open it’s under construction- and he’s running right past! There he goes, right there!”
Operator: “OK so, what is he doing?”
Albenze: “He’s running down the street.”
When Albenze saw Ahmaud running, he made a gesture attorneys have referenced throughout the case -- a point, with his arm.
Albenze: “I saw on the video, you know, that he goes.”
Attorney: “And who are you doing that too?”
Albenze: “I was just thinking to myself, run on down the street.”
The state and the defense have both said the McMichaels took that as a gesture to go after Arbery. Albenze said it wasn’t.
Linda Dunikoski, Prosecutor: “Were you intending to communicate to anyone in particular at that time?”
Albenze’s testimony was a significant player in the case for setting up what actions the McMichaels took after that initial call was made. It was discussed multiple times in opening statements and will continue to come up in evidence.
After hearing that testimony, civil rights leader outside the courthouse had one thing to say.
“Not only are those three on trial, but Georgia law is on trial,” said Rev. Al Sharpton.
Civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton and attorneys of Arbery’s family spoke outside the Glynn County courthouse and held a prayer vigil while the trial was on a lunch break.
Ten total witnesses took the stand Wednesday, two of them neighbors who have reported seeing Arbery on the property before.
Tuesday, Nov. 9
More officers took the stand as part of day three of testimony. In total, six people have now given witness accounts.
Jurors and members of Arbery’s family have had to watch graphic videos of his death repeatedly.
First responders and investigators who responded to the scene gave testimony all day as attorneys replayed the same images over and over again, explaining how the two sides see things differently.
As jury members studied images of Greg McMichael covered in Arbery’s blood, footage of Arbery walking through a home under construction and body cam footage from moments after he was killed, they are also trying to decide whether the defendants’ actions were motivated by citizen’s arrest.
Linda Dunikoski, Prosecutor: “Did Greg McMichael ever indicate to you at that time that he thought it Ahmaud Arbery, the guy, had committed a crime that day?”
Witness: “No ma’am.”
The law the defense is arguing has since been changed as a result of the Arbery case, but jurors are not to bring that into consideration. The state is trying to prove the three defendants overstepped the bounds of citizen’s arrest.
Dunikoski: “While speaking with you, did Greg McMichael ever use the word burglary? Did he ever use the word trespass? Did he ever tell you, while you were talking to him, that he was attempting to make a citizen’s arrest?”
Witness: “No ma’am.”
Witness testimony and video footage recorded the McMichaels’ response to the events.
“He was cornered like a, like a, like a rat,” Greg McMichael said of Arbery on the day of the shooting, according to the transcript
While the defendants looked on and took notes throughout the day, a representative for Arbery’s family said they are trying to process hearing what happened, firsthand, while the state and defense continue to push for their case.
Dunikoski: “Did he ever even use the word arrest?
Witness: “No ma’am.”
Dunikoski: Did he ever even use the word detain?”
Witness: “No ma’am.”
Tuesday did have a few tense moments as one attorney called for a mistrial, but was quickly denied. Another attorney argued with the judge over a ruling on the relevance of certain terms. Both were shut down.
Monday, Nov. 8
Jurors heard key witness testimony and viewed crucial evidence, including some images many in the courtroom found graphic.
Action News Jax’s Kristen Rary has been in the courtroom throughout the trial and has seen how the jury, and Arbery’s family members, are reacting.
Some of the video being shown is really intense and graphic -- jurors have been shaking their heads and taking notes, while some watching from the gallery have had to excuse themselves.
On Monday, attorneys questioned Glynn County Police Department Officer Ricky Minshew on what he witnessed that day and what led to his decision making.
Body camera video from moments after Arbery was shot show the 25-year-old laying in a pool of blood, struggling to breathe.
Minshew responded to the shots he heard less than a minute before. When he arrived, Arbery was down on the ground and bleeding. A big question for attorneys and Arbery’s family: Why didn’t Minshew help?
“I didn’t really understand why he didn’t render aid. I understand he had to secure the crime scene, but at the same time he had a guy laying in the middle of the road in a puddle of blood,” Wanda Cooper Jones, Arbery’s mother, said.
Minshew explained it wouldn’t have been safe.
Attorney: “Seeing that, did you attempt any CPR or anything like that? On the deceased male?”
Minshew: “I did not, no.”
Attorney: “Why not?”
Minshew: “Well when I got there I did not know any of the people or any of the facts or circumstances to what had happened. Only thing I knew that I observed was a body laying in the middle of the road with a man who had just bled out and it was by apparent gunfire. So being that I was the only officer on scene, without having any of the police units to watch my back, there was no way that I could switch my attention to anything medical.”
He explained although Arbery was making noise and occasionally twitching, he did not believe he had the training or tools to help. He added he believed the noises Arbery made were not voluntary.
Minshew: “When the brain doesn’t have any oxygen it’s a natural reaction for the body.”
Attorney: “So it’s not a sign of consciousness as you understand it?
Attorney: “It’s not a sign of the brain being intact and forming and making decisions.”
Minshew: “That’s how it appeared, yes.”
Cooper Jones called it “very disturbing.”
“He arrived on the scene and he saw a man in the road and he also saw people, two other guys that were standing there … I hadn’t really put it all together what he was thinking, I really don’t make a lot of sense at this time,” she said.
Minshew was questioned for more than five hours before another first responder took the stand and even more body camera and dash camera footage was played. It was an emotional day for everyone in court.
Friday, Nov. 5
The jury heard opening statements from the state, as well as opening statements from the lawyers for Travis and Greg McMichael.
William “Roddie” Bryan’s lawyer said he would like to wait until the state rests its case to deliver his opening statements. Judge Timothy Walmsley reviewed the rules and granted the request.
The state then called its first witness to the stand, Glynn County Police Officer William Duggen.
Duggen was one of the first officers to arrive on scene the day Arbery was killed and his body camera video from that day was presented as evidence.
Prior to Duggen taking the stand, Walmsley warned those in the room if they would be disturbed by the video, they should step out of the courtroom.
The video, which showed Arbery’s body on the ground, was played just after Duggen recalled the events of that day.
The court session concluded just after 5:30 p.m. on Friday.
The family of Ahmaud Arbery spoke out after its conclusion, saying, “We’ve enjoyed the continuous support of the Glynn County community, the national community and the international community right now during this very difficult trial and process that is going to be more important than ever.”
Court will resume on Monday at 9 a.m.
Action News Jax will have LIVE coverage on CBS47/FOX30.
BACKGROUND ON THE CASE
The killing of Arbery sparked national attention following the leak of a graphic video online that showed his final moments.
The 25-year-old was out for a run in the Satilla Shores neighborhood when he was chased by three men and shot and killed on Feb. 23, 2020.
The three men, Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan, were arrested months later following an investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation not only into the shooting, but how prosecutors Tom Durden and Jackie Johnson in southeast Georgia handled the case.
Now they are on trial for felony murder. The father and son duo confronted Arbery about recent trespassing and burglary incidents in the neighborhood and shot and killed him in the street. Bryan trailed them in his vehicle and recorded Arbery’s shooting death.
After nearly three weeks of trying to narrow down an impartial jury, the 12 seated jurors have been selected. The final selection includes 11 white people and one Black person.
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