BRUNSWICK, Ga. — Ahmaud Arbery was “under attack” when three white men saw him running in a small, coastal neighborhood and hopped in pickup trucks to pursue him, a prosecutor said Monday in the murder trial over his killing.

A nearly all-white panel of 12 jurors and three alternates heard an hour-long closing argument from the state Monday morning and were set to hear from lawyers for each of the three defendants. The jurors will begin deliberations about a verdict after closings.

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.

Video: Legal experts break down how key frames may be used in trial over Ahmaud Arbery’s death

Let’s find out what you need to know.

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

Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski on Monday argued the three defendants made rash decisions based on assumptions that Arbery had committed a crime, which she argued they had no proof of. 

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

Dunikoski claimed that Arbery was killed by the men because he wouldn’t stop talking to them and answer their questions.

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 acknowledged Arbery was seen multiple times on surveillance video wandering around a house under construction in the neighborhood, but said he never took or damaged anything. 

While Arbery was inside the site the day he was killed, the three men had “no immediate knowledge” of that, Dunikoski said, and determined he committed a crime because he was running. Dunikoski said later that Arbery was present at the site and they claimed that they were making an arrest of a citizen to “justify” their actions.

Elle argued that the men could not claim self-defense because they were unjustified aggressors who started it.

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 Bryan and McMichaels charged?

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

Each murder charge could lead to a life sentence. 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.

How are defense lawyers expected to defend their clients?

Defense attorneys have argued the men were attempting to detain Arbery, 25, because they had reason to suspect Arbery had burglarized a house under construction. The attorneys say residents had been increasingly on edge about crime in the neighborhood and that a man matching Arbery’s description had been spotted on camera multiple times inside site.

Attorneys for Travis McMichael say he shot Arbery in self-defense. And attorneys for Bryan say he did not intend to hurt Arbery and was not attempting to assault Arbery with his truck.

Defendant Gregory McMichael looks on during his trial  at the Glynn County Courthouse, Friday, Nov. 19, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga.

After a long selection process, the jury makeup is scrutinized

From an initial pool of 1,000 people, the court ultimately selected 12 jurors and three alternates: 11 white women, three white men and one Black man.

The jury’s makeup, with just one person of color, has drawn criticism for not mirroring the demographic makeup of Glynn County, where more than 26% of residents are Black, or Brunswick, where more than 55% of residents are Black, according to Census Bureau data.

Race was a major theme in questioning. Attorneys questioned prospective jurors about their views of the Black Lives Matter movement, the Confederate flag, the criminal justice system and more. 

Judge Timothy Walmsley even acknowledged “the racial overtones in the case” but said while there “appears to be intentional discrimination” in the jury selection process, he could not take action because defense attorneys were able to give nonracial reasons for their decisions to strike the potential Black jurors from the panel.

Jury selection in the case was further complicated by many would-be jurors’ familiarity with Arbery’s killing, privacy concerns and personal connections to people involved in the incident and the trial.

Black clergy leaders marche with Arbery’s family 

Last week, more than 100 Black pastors and other spiritual leaders held a prayer vigil and march outside the courthouse after Bryan’s defense attorney, Kevin Gough, repeatedly tried to have “high-profile members of the African American community” removed from the courtroom. Gough stated to the judge that Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson were “intimidating” the jury.

The judge denied the requests, and Gough’s words became a clarion call for Black clergy across the country to converge on Brunswick in a show of spiritual solidarity. 



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