All 3 men charged in Ahmaud Arbery’s death convicted of murder

Travis McMichael, Greg McMichael, William ‘Roddie’ Bryan face life in prison in death of 25-year-old Black man

BRUNSWICK, Ga. – After deliberating for about 10 hours over two days, the jury in the case against three white men charged with murder in the death of Ahmaud Arbery returned with a verdict Wednesday afternoon, finding the shooter, Travis McMichael, guilty of malice murder and the other eight counts against him.

Travis McMichael’s father, Greg, was found guilty of eight of the nine counts against him, and William “Roddie” Bryan was found guilty of all but three counts against him.

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

The men face minimum sentences of life in prison. It is up to the judge to decide whether that comes with or without the possibility of parole.

Here’s the breakdown of the charges and the jury’s verdicts (press play on the videos to watch each series of verdicts being read):

Travis McMichael

Malice murder: Guilty

Felony murder: Guilty

Felony murder: Guilty

Felony murder: Guilty

Felony murder: Guilty

Aggravated assault: Guilty

Aggravated assault: Guilty

False imprisonment: Guilty

Criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment: Guilty

Gregory McMichael

Malice murder: Not guilty

Felony murder: Guilty

Felony murder: Guilty

Felony murder: Guilty

Felony murder: Guilty

Aggravated assault: Guilty

Aggravated assault: Guilty

False imprisonment: Guilty

Criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment: Guilty

William “Roddie” Bryan

Malice murder: Not guilty

Felony murder: Not guilty

Felony murder: Guilty

Felony murder: Guilty

Felony murder: Guilty

Aggravated assault: Not guilty

Aggravated assault: Guilty

False imprisonment: Guilty

Criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment: Guilty

WATCH: Defense attorneys Gene Nichols and Randy Reep, who are not connected to the Ahmaud Arbery case, provide analysis in the wake of the verdicts against the three men convicted in his murder.

Defense attorneys Gene Nichols and Randy Reep, who are not connected to the Ahmaud Arbery case, provide analysis in the wake of the verdicts against the three men convicted in his murder.

‘A long time coming’

Travis McMichael stood for the verdict, his lawyer’s arm around his shoulder. At one point, McMichael lowered his head to his chest. After the verdicts were read, as he stood to leave, he mouthed “love you” to his mother, who was in the courtroom.

Reaction to the verdicts was swift. As the judge read the first guilty verdict aloud, Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, sobbed aloud: “Oh!” and wept as the Rev. Al Sharpton held her hand.

RELATED: Rev. Sharpton: ‘Dirty toenails’ comment about Arbery part of most racist case he’s ever witnessed

Arbery’s father, Marcus Arbery Sr., at the same moment leaped up and cheered. The judge asked sheriff’s deputies to remove him from the courtroom for the outburst. “It’s been a long time coming,” Marcus Arbery said as he left the room.

Marcus Arbery was later seen crying and hugging supporters outside the courtroom.

“He didn’t do nothing,” the father said, “but run and dream.”

Cheers could be heard from the hallways inside the courtroom and the atmosphere outside the courthouse was jubilant, as Black Lives Matter flags waved and supporters chanted.

President Joe Biden issued a statement Wednesday:

Ahmaud Arbery’s killing – witnessed by the world on video – is a devastating reminder of how far we have to go in the fight for racial justice in this country. Mr. Arbery should be here today, celebrating the holidays with his mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, and his father, Marcus Arbery. Nothing can bring Mr. Arbery back to his family and to his community, but the verdict ensures that those who committed this horrible crime will be punished.

While the guilty verdicts reflect our justice system doing its job, that alone is not enough. Instead, we must recommit ourselves to building a future of unity and shared strength, where no one fears violence because of the color of their skin. My administration will continue to do the hard work to ensure that equal justice under law is not just a phrase emblazoned in stone above the Supreme Court, but a reality for all Americans.

Though prosecutors did not argue that racism motivated the killing, federal authorities have charged the three men with hate crimes, alleging that they chased and killed Arbery because he was Black. That case is scheduled to go to trial in February.

The trial

The McMichaels grabbed guns and jumped in a pickup truck to pursue the 25-year-old Black man after seeing him running in their neighborhood outside the Georgia port city of Brunswick in February 2020. Neighbor Bryan recorded cellphone video as he joined the pursuit in his own pickup.

The jury sent a note to Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley soon after returning to court Wednesday morning asking to view two versions of that shooting video — the original and one that investigators enhanced to reduce shadows — three times apiece.

Jurors returned to the courtroom to see the videos and listen again to the 911 call Greg McMichael made from the bed of a pickup truck about 30 seconds before the shooting.

On the 911 call the jury reviewed, Greg McMichael tells an operator: “I’m out here in Satilla Shores. There’s a Black male running down the street.”

He then starts shouting, apparently as Arbery is running toward the McMichaels’ idling truck with Bryan’s truck coming up behind him: “Stop right there! Damn it, stop! Travis!” Gunshots can be heard a few seconds later.

The jury was tasked with determining whether the men’s actions were justified under Georgia’s citizen’s arrest law, which has since been repealed, or whether they constituted murder under Georgia law.

EXPLAINER: What instructions did jury get in Arbery death?

Arbery’s killing became part of a larger national reckoning on racial injustice after the graphic video of his death leaked online two months later and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case, quickly arresting the three men.

During the multi-week trial in Glynn County, defense attorneys contended the McMichaels were attempting a legal citizen’s arrest when they set off after Arbery, seeking to detain and question him as a suspected burglar after he was seen running from a nearby home under construction.

Travis McMichael, the man who shot Arbery, testified that Arbery attacked him and grabbed his shotgun before he fired the fatal shots, calling it a “life-or-death situation.” Then under cross-examination the following day, as prosecutors replayed the cellphone video of Arbery’s death and went over it in detail with McMichael, he testified that Arbery did not speak, show a weapon or threaten him in any way before he raised his shotgun and pointed it Arbery.

McMichael was one of seven witness defense attorneys called to the stand. The other two defendants did not testify.

Before prosecutors rested their case earlier, they called the medical examiner to testify and showed graphic autopsy photos of Arbery to the jury. They also made sure the jury saw disturbing, close-up evidence photos of Arbery bleeding in the road and that they heard from Glynn County investigators, including one who testified that one of the defendants said they had Arbery “trapped like a rat” before he was fatally shot.

Two other police officers testified that the man who initiated the chase that ended in Arbery’s death quickly changed his story about why he suspected the man running in his neighborhood was a criminal.

Prosecutors said there was no evidence Arbery had committed crimes in the defendants’ neighborhood. He had enrolled at a technical college and was preparing at the time to study to become an electrician like his uncles.

Both inside and outside the courthouse tensions flared during the trial over the presence of high-profile faith leaders in the courtroom, sitting with Arbery’s parents.

Attorney Kevin Gough, who represents Bryan, had to apologize in court after he made comments about not wanting “any more Black pastors” in the courtroom because he claimed they were an intimidating influence on the jury. Those comments became a flashpoint leading to demonstrations, including a march and rally outside the courthouse as attorneys repeated calls for the pastors to not be permitted in the gallery.

The Glynn Unified Command said it had a plan in place for whatever verdict the jurors reached, whenever it came down.

“It doesn’t matter which way the verdict goes, you can’t make everyone happy, so we are preparing for those contingencies, prepare for the worst, hope for the best,” said Capt. Jeremiah Bergquist of the Glynn County Police Department. “We are promoting peace. You can assemble, have that freedom of speech — and get your message out and do it peacefully, and that’s what we’ve been asking people to do and up to this point it has been great.”


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Tarik anchors the 4, 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. weekday newscasts and reports with the I-TEAM.

16-year veteran journalist and Emmy Award winning anchor