Lawyer makes closing statement in the murder trial of Ahmed Abery

On Monday, in the murder trial of three white men accused of killing Ahmad Arbery, the lawyers presented their final arguments to the jurors. The prosecutor said the 25-year-old The man was hunted “because he was a black man running around in the street”, while the defense retorted that Abery was “not an innocent victim” and the defendant had reason to suspect that he had committed theft.

On February 23, 2020, Abery was running near the white-majority Satila coast in Brunswick when he was hunted down by the 65-year-old former police officer Gregory McMichael and his 35-year-old son Travis. Their neighbor, William “Rody” Bryan, 52-year-old Jr. helped them turn around the corner of Arbery, and when he was running on the road, he followed behind with a pickup truck.

When weighing whether the defendant is guilty of felony and malicious murder, a 12-person jury of 11 whites and one black must consider whether these people “reasonably suspect” that Abery committed a felony and tried to escape.

The special prosecutor Linda Dunikoski of the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office told the jury: “All three defendants made assumptions… They decided to attack Aiha in their driveway. Med Abery, because he is a black man running on the street.”

“Ahmaud Arbery is under attack,” she added. “…They shot him and killed him—not because he was a threat to them, but because he wouldn’t stop to talk to them.”

Dunikowski told the jury that these people were not trying to legally arrest citizens. According to Georgia’s Citizen Arrest Act-a civil war law that took effect when the shooting occurred but was later repealed-a person can detain someone and may have a gun while doing so. But Dunikowski believes that in order to arrest a citizen, the defendant must witness the actual crime committed by Abery.

“In order to arrest criminals, criminal acts must be carried out in the presence of ordinary citizens,” she said. “Do we have one here? No.”

The defense attorney claimed that Arbery was killed because he rejected legitimate legal attempts to stop and detain him so that the police could inquire about his recent series of intrusions in a community about 80 miles south of Savannah.

Jason Sheffield is an attorney for Travis McMichael and the first of the three defense attorneys who spoke with jurors on Monday. He said that Satila Coast ( Residents of Satilla Shores felt uneasy and fearful after a series of trespasses and burglaries.

He emphasized that Abery appeared in a house under construction at three different times, including on the day of the filming. They said that after neighbors pointed out that he was the one who broke into the empty house, the McMichael family began to follow Abery.

Sheffield told the jury: “Duties and responsibilities and compliance with the law will always be intertwined with heartache and tragedy.” “You can defend yourself. If you think it is necessary, you can use force that may cause death or personal injury. At that moment, Travis thought it was necessary.”

There is no evidence that Abery stole anything.

But Sheffield told the jury that a person can burglary without actually having to steal anything. McMichael had “reasonable and possible grounds for suspicion”, believing that Abery had committed a crime, and after Abery tried to take his gun from him, he took self-defense action and shot Abery. .

The issue of self-defense caused controversy. Dunikowski told the jury that the defendants could not claim self-defense under the law because they were the original aggressors.

“What the bully always said: He started! …I’m defending myself,” Dunikowski said, noting that the defendant had two guns and two pickup trucks, while Abery was unarmed and walking. .

“Use your common sense and put on your thinking hat,” she instructed the jurors.

The killing was recorded in a 36-second mobile video taken by Brian: Abery can be seen jogging along a sun-dappled street towards a pickup truck parked in the middle of the road, while Gregory McMichael is standing in the truck A pistol behind. Travis McMichael was standing next to the opened driver’s side door with a shotgun.

After passing the truck on the passenger side, Arbery briefly disappeared from view. When the gunshot sounded, he could be seen arguing with Travis McMichael on the driver’s side. With the second shot, Arbery fights McMichael. The third shot was fired at close range, and Abery stumbled to the ground.

Laura Hogg, the lawyer representing Gregory McMichael, said that Abery was “not an innocent victim” but a “recurring night intruder” who repeatedly “looted” the empty house under construction.

Hogg argued that Abery’s death was due to his own wrong decision: she said that he chose to enter the semi-built house, flee in the face, and then suddenly turned to Telavi in ​​the last few seconds before his death. Smacmichael also used his shotgun to fight.

“No one said Ahmed Abery should die,” Hogg told the jury. “He died because, no matter what inexplicable and illogical reasons, he did not stay in place, no matter what overwhelming reasons, he must avoid being arrested that day and being arrested by the police. Instead, he chose to fight.”

Hogg also expressed doubts about Abery’s claim that he had just gone for a run on the day of filming. He said he was wearing khaki shorts and no socks “to cover his long and dirty toenails.”

Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, suddenly left the courtroom for a moment. “I have to get out of here,” she said.

Later, outside the court, Cooper-Jones said that the defense was “very rude.”

The prosecution will make a rebuttal on Tuesday morning.

A few days after the jury in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the jury in this small coastal city in Georgia will begin its deliberations. Acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse, a white teenager who killed two unarmed men and shot an armed man during a protest against police brutality in August 2020, was charged with all charges, including intentional homicide and reckless harm.

On Monday, the atmosphere was very tense. Dozens of people gathered outside the Green County courthouse holding slogans and banners that read “The life of a black man is also life” and shouted: “No justice! No peace!” and “Say his name! Ah! Med Abery!”

When the demonstrators held up photos of Abery, a small number of men and women belonging to the New Black Panthers patrolled the court grounds with weapons.

In the afternoon, as the demonstrators marched around the court building, Chatham County Superior Court Judge Timothy Wormsley moved the jury to the inner room of the building.

McMichaels and Bryan face nine charges, including one count of malicious murder and four counts of felony murder. The defendant was also charged with two counts of serious assault, one count of unlawful imprisonment and one count of attempted unlawful imprisonment. The minimum penalty for malicious murder is life imprisonment.

None of the three defendants pleaded guilty. A jury of almost all whites—an unrepresentative sample of counties with more than a quarter of blacks—must agree on whether each defendant is guilty of murder.

At the time of the shooting, according to Georgia’s Citizens’ Arrest Act, if the criminal act was committed “within the immediate knowledge” and they have “reasonable and probable grounds for suspicion” that the person had just committed the criminal act, the person was arrested. Man is a legal felony.

Georgia’s “hold the ground” law also allows the use of lethal force, provided that a person “has reason to believe that they are at risk of serious personal injury or death”.

Although Travis McMichael shot, Dunikowski argued on Monday that his father and Brian were equally guilty because they helped him track Abery.

“They all acted as a party to the crime,” Dunikowski told the jurors, believing that Bryan chased Abery with a pickup truck and drove him into the ditch. “The law stipulates that everyone involved in the case is guilty.”

Kevin Gough, the lawyer representing Bryan, tried to keep his client away from the other defendants. He argued that not only did Brian fail to shoot Abery, but he didn’t know that the McMichael family was armed until the moment before Abery’s death. Brian also provided all his evidence to law enforcement, which he said, including key cell phone videos of the fatal encounter.

“He was sincere from the beginning,” Gough told the jury. “The existence of Roddie Bryan is absolutely superfluous and has nothing to do with the tragic death of Ahmaud Arbery.”

The death of Abery shocked Americans on both sides of the political aisle.For many Georgians think back By the time of Jim Crow, when white mobs were hunted down Negro and kill them with impunity.

In June 2020, just a few weeks after an investigator in Georgia testified at a hearing that Brian heard Travis McMichael used racist slander after killing Abery, the staunch Republican Party The governor signed the first hate crimes bill in Georgia, which imposes additional punishment biases on crimes motivated by the following.

In May of this year, Governor Brian Kemp passed a bill that reformed the state’s controversial citizen arrest law, greatly restricting the ability of any uncertified law enforcement officer to arrest someone. Kemp called the old law “outdated” and “reached the point of abuse.”

The state murder trial is not the only chance to convict the three white men.

Next year, they will face a separate federal trial for hate crimes and kidnapping Toll -One count of interfering with Arbery’s right to use public streets because of his race and one count of attempted kidnapping. McMichaels is also accused of using, carrying and brandishing a gun during a violent crime.

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