BRUNSWICK, Ga. — Jurors in the murder trial of the three Georgia men charged in Ahmaud Arbery’s killing were listening to hours of closing arguments Monday as four attorneys presented various views of what happened on that day early last year.

The prosecution said Arbery was “under attack” by white men who saw a Black man running in their small, coastal neighborhood and hopped in pickup trucks to pursue him.

Two of the defendants’ defense attorneys painted an image of crime-prone residents and claimed that the men wanted to arrest Arbery. A third lawyer said that the witness was not involved in the crime but simply documented it.

The nearly all-white panel of 12 jurors and three alternates was expected to hear a rebuttal from the prosecution later Monday. Expected to commence Tuesday’s deliberations.

Father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan are charged with murder and other crimes in the February 2020 fatal shooting in Brunswick, about 80 miles south of Savannah. They were arrested two months after the shooting, when Bryan’s cellphone video of the incident was released.

These are the facts:

Attorney says William ‘Roddie’ Bryan was guided by “divine providence.”

Kevin Gough who is Bryan’s defense attorney, said his client was led by “divine Providence” to record video of Arbery walking down the street on that particular day. Bryan then claimed he was acting as a well-intentioned witness in the crime.

Gough said Bryan is a “regular guy” who did not “intentionally” aid in the crime. Gough stated that Bryan was originally unaware of the McMichaels’ armed status and had “only a cellphone.”

“Something is guiding Mr. Bryan down this street to document what’s going on,” Gough said, adding, “He’s being guided, whether that’s by a god, if you believe in god, or some other entity. But do you really believe it’s just coincidence or chance?”

Dozens of Black Lives Matter and Black Panther protesters gather outside the Glynn County Courthouse where the trial of Travis McMichael, his father, Gregory McMichael, and William "Roddie" Bryan is held, Monday, Nov. 22, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga.

Brunswick protests Black Lives Matter and Black Panthers activists 

On Monday night, dozens of Black Lives Matter supporters and Black Panthers activists protested in front the Glynn county courthouse during closing arguments. Some people were carrying guns.

Demonstrators displayed a large picture of Ahmaud Abery, and brought along a coffin inscribed to the names of the slain Black men. Declare his name! Ahmaud Arbery!” Protesters shouted.

Kevin Gough was Bryan’s defense attorney and moved for a mistrial due to the demonstration. The judge denied this motion.

Attorney: Travis McMichael had probable and reasonable grounds for suspicion

A defense attorney for Travis McMichael told jurors that McMichael was motivated by “duty and responsibility” to question Arbery about a crime he suspected and that he fatally shot Arbery in self-defense.

Jason Sheffield of Attorney stated that Satilla Shores had been on edge due to a number of crime, which included theft from an owner of a home under construction.

Sheffield said McMichael knew a man had been seen on surveillance video at the construction site and that he’d briefly encountered a man there two weeks before Arbery’s death. Sheffield Arbery trespassed in the house multiple times, as seen on video, and that there was “no evidence that Ahmaud Arbery ever jogged or exercised in Satilla Shores.” 

Defense attorney Jason B. Sheffield presents a closing argument to the jury during the trial of Travis McMichael, his father, Gregory McMichael, and William "Roddie" Bryan, at the Glynn County Courthouse, Monday, Nov. 22, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga.

So when McMichael saw Arbery running, McMichael used his Coast Guard training to conclude there was “reasonable and probable grounds of suspicion” that Arbery committed burglary, Sheffield said.

Sheffield stated that Arbery didn’t try to diffuse the situation by speaking to McMichael, or running through a yard away from men following him down the street. After a five-minute chase, as Arbery ran toward him, McMichael shot Arbery in self-defense, Sheffield said.

McMichael was “totally freaked out” after the shooting, Sheffield said. “If this was a case about wanting to murder a Black jogger, if this was really a case about that, Travis would not have reacted the way he reacted,” Sheffield said.

Laura Hogue was the attorney for Gregory McMichael and echoed many aspects of her closing argument. Hogue said Gregory McMichael, a retired investigator, was “seeking to protect his community” and had “no doubt” that Arbery was the same man seen on surveillance video.

“A good neighborhood is always policing itself,” she said, adding, “The police can’t be everywhere, and in a safe, secure neighborhood, police are helped by those neighbors.”

Prosecutor: “Who brought the gun to the party?” 

Linda Dunikoski the Prosecutor argued Monday that the defendants made reckless decisions because she assumed Arbery had committed some crime. However, they did not have any evidence of this. Dunikoski claimed that Arbery refused to talk to her and the other men who tried to interview him.

Dunikoski stated that Ahmaud arbery was attacked in the driveways by these men because he was Black and running down the street. She said, “This attack was on Ahmaud Albery.”

Dunikoski claimed that Arbery could be seen several times wandering through a nearby house, on surveillance video. But he said nothing about damaging or taking anything. 

Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski presents a closing argument to the jury during the trial of Travis McMichael, his father, Gregory McMichael, and William "Roddie" Bryan, at the Glynn County Courthouse, Monday, Nov. 22, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga.

Dunikoski claimed that Arbery was at the spot the day he died and the men knew nothing. They believed Arbery ran from the crime. Dunikoski said later that Arbery’s killers claimed that they had made an arrest for a citizen to justify their actions.

Dunikoski stated that self-defense cannot be claimed by the men because the aggressors were first and unjustified.

Dunikoski asked, “Who brought the gun to the party?” Dunikoski asked, adding, “You can’t create the situation and then go ‘oh I was defending myself.'”

How are charges laid in Ahmaud Abery’s murder trial?

Gregory, 65; Travis McMichael 35; and Bryan 52 are being charged with felony and malice killing, two counts of assault and one count each false imprisonment and criminal attempted to commit false imprisonment.

A life sentence could be handed down for both murder and attempted murder. Aggravated assault has a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. False imprisonment is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. If multiple convictions have been made, defendants will receive the maximum sentence for the most severe charge.

Source: USAToday.com

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