Prosecutor says defendants attacked Arbery because he was “a black man running down the street”

The three white men charged with murder in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery made the decision to “attack” because Arbery “was a black man running down the street”, not because he was a threat, said Monday Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski during oral argument.

“Sir. Arbery was under attack,” Dunikoski told jurors, adding that the defendants were not justified in prosecuting and killing Arbery.

Travis McMichael; her father, Gregory McMichael; and his neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan are accused of chasing Arbery in separate pickup trucks on February 23, 2020, in the Satilla Shores neighborhood where they lived in Brunswick, Georgia. Travis McMichael shot Arbery, 25, with a shotgun at close range. Bryan filmed the fatal encounter on his cell phone.

The three defendants were arrested months later after the video was leaked and brought the case to the world’s attention.

All are charged with malicious murder, criminal murder, aggravated assault, forcible confinement and criminal attempt to commit a crime. They risk life imprisonment if found guilty.

Pleadings in the case began on Monday and will continue on Tuesday morning with a final rebuttal of the prosecution before the case goes to the jury.

Defense attorneys said the defendants suspected Arbery of being a burglar and were attempting to carry out a citizen arrest, which was legal at the time. They also claim that Travis McMichael shot Arbery in self-defense.

Dunikoski said Monday that the three defendants had committed four crimes against Arbery, then “they shot him and killed him. Not because he’s a threat to them, but because he wouldn’t stop to talk to them.

She said the defense will try to convince jurors that Arbery is the attacker and somehow a threat to the men.

“Three on one, two vans, two guns,” she said of the defendants. “Mr. Arbery, nothing in his pockets. Not a cell phone, not a gun. Not even an ID,” she said.

“If you are the first wrongful aggressor, you cannot claim self-defense,” she said.

Dunikoski also said the defendants were not making a “citizen arrest” because they had not seen Arbery commit a crime in their presence that day and were not immediately aware that Arbery had committed a crime.

“What is the suggestion that Ahmaud committed a crime based on? No immediate knowledge, but speculation, ”she said.

Defense attorneys for the McMichaels said the men were protecting a neighborhood that had seen an increase in crime.

“A good neighborhood is always watched,” Laura Hogue, lawyer Gregory McMichael told jurors during oral argument. Each accused has their own defense team.

Jason Sheffield, who represents Travis McMichael, said Monday his client had “the right to carry out citizen arrest” and believed Arbery had committed the crime of burglary.

Arbery had been spotted several times on security camera video at a nearby house under construction. Videos never showed Arbery taking anything from the property.

“You have the right to have a gun when making an arrest,” Sheffield said. “You have the right to arrest a person, detain them and detain them for the police. And there is a risk with that and there are tragic consequences that can follow. “

Sheffield said Travis McMichael had his own “horrific” experience about two weeks before the fatal shooting when he saw a man in his neighborhood “running across the street then hiding in the shadows”. Travis McMichael said the man, who has been described by police as a black man, lifted his shirt and acted like he was looking for his pocket.

Sheffield said McMichael also saw videos of a man in the house under construction and spoke with the owner of the house about the theft of property from a boat.

“He saw everything except his hand on the stolen material,” the lawyer said.

Kevin Gough, Bryan’s lawyer, sought to separate his client from the McMichaels and diminish Bryan’s role in the men’s meeting with Arbery.

“Sir. Bryan’s presence did not contribute in any direct or substantial way to Mr. Arbery’s death,” Gough said. “Because the McMichaels were certainly able to catch up to him and shoot if that was their intention.”

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