Expect appeals soon from 3 men convicted of Ahmaud Arbery’s murder

Legal expert weighs in on what strategy defense lawyers might use in appeals process

Defense attorneys are looking to file appeals on behalf of their clients who were found guilty of murdering Ahmaud Arbery in southeast Georgia.

BRUNSWICK, Ga. – Defense attorneys are looking to file appeals on behalf of their clients who were found guilty of murdering Ahmaud Arbery in southeast Georgia.

Jurors convicted Greg McMichael, son Travis McMichael and neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan of killing Arbery after they spotted him running in their coastal Glynn County neighborhood in February 2020.

Attorney Kevin Gough was very vocal about getting his client, Bryan, a fair trial and filed for multiple mistrials throughout the process.

“They still have to deal with the loss of their son. That’s a real tragedy. You can’t fix that. Roddie Bryan can’t fix that, I guess that’s not what I’m supposed to say but being a victim is very complicated,” said Gough.

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

The judge denied every request for mistrial and severances.

“That is going to be the basis for his appeal, more than likely is his motions for mistrial and the denial of those motions,” said attorney LaToya Williams-Shelton, who is not affiliated with the case.

Defense attorneys plan to file appeals as early as Monday.

“There were a lot of legal issues that were raised outside the presence of the jury as to what the law was in this case. There were a lot of arguments outside the presence of the jury as to what the evidence was supposed to be in this case,” said Gough.

The judge denied motions to include Arbery’s mental health records, probation status, and previous encounters with police as evidence for the jury.

Judge Timothy Walmsley speaks during the trial of William "Roddie" Bryan, Travis McMichael and his father Gregory McMichael, all charged with the February 2020 death of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021, at the Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick, Ga. (Octavio Jones/Pool Photo via AP)

The state argued the three men didn’t know Arbery so the evidence was irrelevant.

Williams-Shelton said this could be another strategy in appeals.

“Basically, their argument is that information should have come in. So again, the only thing the appeals court is looking at is was the judge’s decision to deny this information from coming in proper,” she said.

FULL COVERAGE: Trial of men accused in death of Ahmaud Arbery

Williams-Shelton said they don’t typically see victims’ psych records or criminal history brought up unless the state introduced character evidence.

The McMichaels and Bryan are also facing federal charges. A grand jury indicted them in April on hate crime charges, saying they targeted Arbery because he was black.

All three men face one count of interfering with civil rights and attempted kidnapping. We’re told this is a separate case regardless of the state trial, with jury selection scheduled for Feb. 7.

Williams-Shelton said she doesn’t think the defense has a chance with the appeals and said for the most part appellate courts side with the trial court unless there is a clear abuse of discretion.

The defendants have not been sentenced yet.

A statement on the trial was released Friday from District Attorney Flynn D. Broady, of the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office:

“The jury representing the Glynn County community made a clear statement in finding the three men guilty of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. That statement reflects a new direction for our communities, this State, and the nation, to denounce hate, division and intolerance and promote unity.  This case has garnered national attention, recalling attention to a past, this nation yearns to forget.   It is important that we never forget. That we look at our past and map a new way forward.  That we understand our prior shortcomings and work to the goal enumerated in our founding documents, “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” and may we add Justice.  In order to do that it takes strength and courage, to demand the rights entitled to us by our Constitution and laws.

“The courage demonstrated by Wanda Cooper Jones is an inspiration to us all. She demanded accountability for the death of her son, Ahmaud.  She placed her faith in God and our criminal justice system that this day would come. I applaud her and Ahmaud’s father, Marcus. Their work has been more than a step towards justice for communities of color. Governor Kemp and the Georgia Legislature amended Georgia’s antiquated Citizen’s Arrest Statute and for the first time enacted a Hate Crime Statute here in Georgia, all due to advocacy for justice for Ahmaud.

“The citizens of this state and this nation stood with Wanda and Marcus and their family. We, the Cobb District Attorney’s Office, stood with them.  We were determined that each of the defendants were given a fair trial and I believe we did that.  Our team of lead prosecutor Senior ADA Linda Dunikoski, Senior ADA Paul Camarillo, ADA Larissa Ollivierre and a host of others from our office worked tirelessly to ensure justice for this family.  We held firm to the belief that our criminal justice system works.  When you remove the hate, the intolerance and divisiveness and focus on truth, integrity, and unity that justice will prevail.”

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