3 defendants ahmaud arbery

BRUNSWICK, Ga. (CBS46) — The jury has reached a verdict in the case of the three men accused of killing 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery while jogging through the Satilla Shores neighborhood near Brunswick, Georgia, on Feb. 23, 2020.

Travis McMichael has been found guilty on all 9 counts, which includes malice and felony murder.  

Gregory McMichael was found not guilty on count 1 (malice murder), but guilty on counts 2 through 9. William "Roddie" Bryan was found not guilty on counts 1, 2 and 6 and guilty on counts 3, 4, 5, and 9. 


The men were indicted on nine criminal counts in June 2020. The indictment accused the men of using their pickup trucks to chase and assault Arbery before he was shot and killed by Travis McMichael.

LIVE BLOG: Reactions pour in after verdicts reached in Arbery murder trial

The three men will be sentenced by the judge in a couple of weeks most likely. During the sentencing hearing, the attorneys may present additional evidence or call character witnesses.

Since all three defendants were convicted on multiple felony charges, they are all facing multiple life sentences. 

RELATED: EXPLAINER: Trio guilty of killing Ahmaud Arbery. What now?

The men are also facing federal charges. 


Count 1

Malice Murder, which means causing a person's death with deliberate intention, without considerable provocation, and “where all the circumstances of the killing show an abandoned and malignant heart.” It is punishable by death or by life imprisonment with or without possibility of parole.


Counts 2, 3, 4 and 5

Felony Murder, which applies when a death is caused in the course of another felony, whether or not the killing was intentional and unprovoked. Felony Murder is also punishable by death or by life imprisonment with or without possibility of parole.

Counts 6 and 7

Aggravated Assault, which means an assault using “any object, device, or instrument which, when used offensively against a person, is likely to or actually does result in serious bodily injury.” It is punishable by imprisonment of 1 to 20 years.

Count 8

False Imprisonment, which is defined as arresting, confining or detaining another person "in violation of the personal liberty" of that person.

Count 9

Criminal Attempt to commit a felony, which is defined as performing “any act which constitutes a substantial step” toward the intentional commission of a crime — in this case, the false imprisonment charged in Count 8. Punishable by 1 to 5 years in prison.

Defense attorneys claimed during the trial that the three men were attempting to make a citizen's arrest because they thought he might have done something illegal. They also claimed that Travis McMichael was forced to shoot Arbery in self-defense during a struggle.

The jury began deliberations shortly before 11:30 a.m. Nov. 22 after a 13-day trial following weeks of jury selection. The trial featured 30 witnesses and nearly two days of closing arguments. They deliberated for about 6 hours before deciding to go home Tuesday night. The began deliberating again at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. 

The men's fate was decided by a jury of 11 whites and 1 Black man. Juries in Georgia are not supposed to consider the possible penalty when deciding on guilt or innocence since sentencing is up to the judge.

Arbery's death prompted widespread protests last year, even before the death of George Floyd.

The men were not charged until a video of the deadly encounter went viral two months later and the GBI became involved.

The defense claimed during the trial that the McMichaels had the right to detain Arbery for police under Georgia's old citizen's arrest law. The law gave citizens the right to detain someone if they had "reasonable and probable grounds of suspicion" that the person was escaping a felony. That law was repealed after Arbery's death.

Arbery, who was known for jogging, often stopped in a house under construction in the Satilla Shores neighborhood, including the day of his death. However, there was no proof that Arbery ever stole anything during his visits.

Walking out of the Glynn County Courthouse, Ahmaud Arbery’s parents let out a sigh of relief as crowds on the front lawn of the courthouse cheered for the guilty verdicts—one of the few times Wanda Cooper-Jones and Marcus Arbery have been able to smile.

“It’s been a long fight,” said Wanda Cooper-Jones.  “It’s been a hard fight, but God is Good,” she said.

On the courthouse steps, the moment was still setting in that the three men accused of chasing down and shooting their son have all been convicted of murder.  

“To be honest with you, I never thought this day would come, but God is good,” Cooper-Jones stated.

Arbery’s family gave an emotional outburst when the verdict was read.  Marcus Arbery stood up and cheered from his bench in the tightly-packed courtroom gallery. Attorneys Lee Merrit and Ben Crump sat with Arbery’s parents alongside Rev. Al Sharpton.

The defendants claimed they were attempting a citizen’s arrest and ended up killing Arbery in self-defense. Travis McMichael’s defense attorney Bob Rubin says they truly believe their clients were acting in self-defense and that the video would have helped them. Rubin added that perhaps the legal team has a bit of “tunnel vision.”

“You can't make a citizen's arrest because someone is running down the street and you have no idea of what crime they committed that day,” said lead prosecutor Linda Dunikoski in her closing. 

The defense team told reporters the McMichael’s are remorseful. Jason Sheffield says he has had deeply emotional conversations with Travis and Greg McMichael.

“I can tell you honestly these are sorry about what happened to Ahmaud Arbery, and they are sorry about the tragedy that happened because of the choices they made to go out there and try to stop them,” said Jason Sheffield told reporters after the convictions.

 William Bryan’s defense attorney Kevin Gough maintained his client was not culpable for the shooting. Gough made at least 10 requests for a mistrial repeatedly claiming Black pastors and high-profile leaders could influence the jury.

“While we disagree with the decision of the jury and we disagreed with a number of rulings of the court, we have to respect the efforts that were made,” Gough said after the trial.

Judge Timothy Walmsley will decide if the three men will spend life in prison with or without possibility of parole. 

The case’s conclusion is one Arbery’s parents say their son has long deserved. 

 “You know him as Ahmaud, I know him as Quez. He may now rest in peace,” Cooper Jones said. 

 Sentencing is expected to occur in the coming weeks.

Copyright 2021 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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