Three men found guilty of murdering the unarmed black man Ahmaud Arbery in the United States

A jury has found three men guilty of the murder of the black man Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot while jogging in the US state of Georgia in February 2020.

The sentences for Greg McMichael, son Travis McMichael and neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan came after juries for about 10 hours.

McMichaels grabbed guns and jumped in a pick-up truck to pursue the 25-year-old man after seeing Mr Arbery run in their neighborhood outside the port city of Brunswick, Georgia.

Bryan participated in the chase in his own truck and recorded a cell phone video of Travis McMichael shooting deadly Mr. Arbery.

The video leaked online two months later.

The judgments come as part of a larger national inventory of racial injustice in the United States.

People gather at a wall with a mural painted by Ahmaud Arbery.
A mural by Ahmaud Arbery painted on the side of The Brunswick African American Cultural Center in Brunswick, Georgia.(Reuters: Octavio Jones)

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

During the trial, the jury sent a note to Supreme Court Justice Timothy Walmsley shortly after returning to court Wednesday morning, asking to see two versions of the shooting video, the original and one that investigators improved to reduce shadows.

Juries returned to the courtroom to watch the videos and listen again to the 911 call that the defendants made from the barn of a pick-up truck about 30 seconds before the shooting.

McMichaels told police they suspected Mr. Arbery was a fugitive burglar as they armed themselves and jumped into a pick-up truck to chase him, while Bryan participated in the chase as they passed his house.

Mugshots of three white men: Greg McMichael, Travis McMichael and William Bryan.
Greg McMichael, Travis McMichael and William Bryan will be charged with further hate crimes by federal authorities in February.(Reuters)

On the 911 call, which the jury reviewed, Greg McMichael tells an operator, “I’m out here in Satilla Shores. A black man is running down the street.”

He then starts yelling, apparently as Mr. Arbery runs toward McMichaels’ idle truck with Bryan’s truck heading up behind him: “Stop right there! Damn, stop! Travis!” Shots can be heard a few seconds later.

Defense attorneys allege that McMichaels attempted to arrest a lawful citizen while traveling after Mr. Arbery, in an attempt to detain and interrogate him as a suspected burglar after he was seen running from a nearby home under construction.

Travis McMichael testified that he shot Arbery in self-defense, saying the running man turned and attacked with his fists as he ran past the idle truck where Travis McMichael was standing with his shotgun.

Prosecutors said there was no evidence that Mr Arbery had committed crimes in the defendants’ neighborhoods.

He was enrolled in a technical school and was preparing to study to be an electrician just like his uncles.

Although prosecutors did not claim racism motivated the killing, federal authorities have accused the men of hate crimes, claiming that they hunted and killed Mr Arbery because he was black.

The case is scheduled to go to court in February.

Family welcomes the verdict

Ahmaud Arbery's mother is seen closing her eyes while the verdict is read.  She is wearing a mask and black gases.
Ahmaud Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, says her son can now rest in peace.(AP: Stephen B. Morton, Pool)

Moments after the verdicts were announced, Mr Arbery’s father, Marcus Arbery Sr., was seen crying and hugging supporters outside the courtroom.

“He did nothing but run and dream,” he said.

Ben Crump, Mr Arbery’s father’s lawyer, spoke outside the courthouse, repeatedly saying, “Ahmaud’s spirit defeated the lynch mob.”

Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, thanked the crowd gathered outside the courthouse and said she did not think she would see this day.

“It’s been a long battle. It’s been a tough battle. But God is good,” she said.

Of her son she said, “He will now rest in peace.”

AP

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