Jury begins deliberations on Arbery Killing
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BRUNSWICK, Georgia – A jury began deliberating on Tuesday on the fate of the three white men charged with the murder of Ahmaud Arbery after hearing the latest heated argument from lead prosecutor Linda Dunikoski, who rebuffed the defense claim according to which the men had a legal right to pursue Mr. Arbery, and that the defendant Travis McMichael was acting in self-defense when he shot him.
After days of painstaking courtroom conversations, Ms Dunikoski sought to bring the matter down to its essence.
“He was trying to get away from these strangers, who are yelling at him – yelling at him, threatening to kill him – and then they killed him,” she said, referring to Mr. Arbery, a man 25 year old black. who was unarmed when the men chased him. “Do you have any doubts that they committed all of the charges in the indictment?”
The defendants in the case – Mr. McMichael, 35; his father; Gregory McMichael, 65, and their neighbor William Bryan, 52 – have pleaded not guilty to counts of malicious murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, forcible confinement and criminal attempt to carry out forcible confinement. They said they suspected Mr. Arbery of a series of break-ins at their Satilla Shores subdivision, just outside the small coastal town of Brunswick, Georgia, when they chased him into the neighborhood. a Sunday afternoon in February 2020.
Earlier this week, Ms Dunikoski argued that the men attacked Mr Arbery “because he was a black man running down the street”. Robert Rubin, an attorney for Travis McMichael, said the men were acting out of a “duty and responsibility” to protect their families and their neighborhood.
Jurors received the case at noon Tuesday and returned home after 6 p.m., planning to resume deliberations on Wednesday morning. They have heard evidence and argument since November 5 and are now tasked with delivering a verdict in a case that helped fuel social justice protests across the United States in the spring and summer of 2020. Most recently , the lawsuit was the focus of extensive media coverage on cable television.
Both prosecutors and the defense have potential advantages while the jury is deliberating. A number of legal experts believe the white defendants could take advantage of the fact that the jury is made up of 11 white residents of Glynn County, Georgia, and one black resident.
The prosecution may benefit from having charged the men with murder. Unlike malicious murder, prosecutors do not need to show a “deliberate intention” to kill to prove criminal murder. Rather, they only need to show that a crime was committed and that someone died as a result. In this case, if the jury finds an accused guilty of one of the less serious crimes, such as aggravated assault, then jurors would have the discretion to find that accused guilty of murder as well.
For this reason, criminal murder is “a very powerful tool in the prosecutor’s belt,” said Tanya Miller, Atlanta criminal defense attorney and former federal and federal prosecutor. Often, said Ms. Miller, “jurors rightly or wrongly regard murder as a less serious charge than malicious murder, because malicious murder requires intent to kill, and criminal murder is not.
However, she noted, malicious murder and criminal murder carry similar potential penalties. In this case, the men could face life in prison for murder alone.
Ms Dunikoski’s rebuttal on Tuesday morning reaffirmed some of her earlier arguments as to why the resort to the state’s Citizen Arrest Act, which has since been largely gutted, was not applicable in this case. She focused on the idea that the men did not see Mr. Arbery commit a crime that day, nor did they have “immediate knowledge” that a crime had been committed – both scenarios , she said, in which the law authorized the arrest of a citizen. .
She also rejected the idea that Mr. Arbery had been shot in self-defense.
“You can’t start something and claim self-defense,” she said. “And they started this.”
Ms Dunikoski took issue with the defense description of Mr Bryan, who filmed the shooting and was described by his lawyer as “absolutely superfluous and unrelated to the tragic death of Ahmaud Arbery”.
Understanding the murder of Ahmaud Arbery
Shooting. On February 23, 2020, Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old black man, was shot dead after being chased by three white men while jogging near his home on the outskirts of Brunswick, Georgia. Mr. Arbery’s murder was captured in a graphic video that was widely viewed by the public.
She also spent a lot of time focusing on the other man who didn’t pull the trigger that day, Gregory McMichael. She noted Mr. McMichael’s statement that Mr. Arbery was “trapped like a rat” before being killed, citing it as an acknowledgment of bogus imprisonment. And she noted that Mr. McMichael called Mr. Arbery an “asshole” shortly after the shooting.
“Malice, right there,” Ms Dunikoski said of Mr McMichael’s behavior.
The charge of malicious murder is defined in Georgian law as causing the death of a person with willful intent, without considerable provocation, and “when all the circumstances of the murder show an abandoned and malignant heart”.
Ms Dunikoski pleaded with jurors to find the men guilty on the facts, not because they were “good or bad”.
“No one gets a free pass,” she said, adding that the case was about “empowering people and being responsible for their actions.”
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