Prosecution in Arbery murder trial rests its case

Dr. Edmund R. Donoghue, right, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Forensic Pathology Specialist, examines shotgun pellets entered into evidence during the trial of Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan in the Glynn County Courthouse, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. The three are charged with the February 2020 slaying of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)
Caption
Dr. Edmund R. Donoghue, right, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Forensic Pathology Specialist, examines shotgun pellets entered into evidence during the trial of Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan in the Glynn County Courthouse, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. The three are charged with the February 2020 slaying of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Jurors shown gruesome autopsy photos of Arbery’s injuries

BRUNSWICK - After eight days of testimony and 23 witnesses, the prosecution in the trial over Ahmaud Arbery’s killing rested its case.

Prosecutors on Tuesday called four more GBI employees, including the forensic pathologist who conducted Arbery’s autopsy the day after he was killed.

Arbery was shot twice last year after being chased through the Satilla Shores neighborhood, but the first shotgun blast alone was enough to kill him, said Dr. Edmund Donoghue.

From the stand, he walked jurors through close-up photographs of the grievous injuries that Arbery suffered after being shot at close range by defendant Travis McMichael.

Though Arbery’s wounds were fatal, none of the pellets struck his heart and it was his “fight-or-flight reaction” that allowed him to continue struggling over the weapon in the road, Donoghue said.

Arbery’s injuries included a gaping wound to the center of his chest, a large graze wound to his right wrist, a fractured humerus, broken ribs and a paralyzed left arm. Many of the buckshot pellets exited the 25-year-old’s body, the pathologist testified. Others remained lodged in his torso and shoulder, according to a full-body X-Ray shown in court.

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Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski asks for evidence be brought into the courtroom during Dr. Edmund R. Donoghue's testimony, in the trial of Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan in the Glynn County Courthouse, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. The three are charged with the February 2020 slaying of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski asks for evidence be brought into the courtroom during Dr. Edmund R. Donoghue's testimony, in the trial of Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan in the Glynn County Courthouse, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. The three are charged with the February 2020 slaying of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)
Caption
Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski asks for evidence be brought into the courtroom during Dr. Edmund R. Donoghue's testimony, in the trial of Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan in the Glynn County Courthouse, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. The three are charged with the February 2020 slaying of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Jurors were again shown Arbery’s white T-shirt and khaki shorts, both of which were stained bright red with blood. The tread on the bottom of his Nike running shoes was nearly gone, the medical examiner’s photos showed.

The first shot was deadly, Donoghue said, and nothing could have been done to save Arbery.

“They couldn’t do anything about the bleeding as long as the heart was beating,” he said.

Caption
Ahmaud Arbery's mother Wanda Cooper-Jones reacts to autopsy photos entered into evidence during the trial of Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan in the Glynn County Courthouse, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. The three are charged with the February 2020 slaying of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Ahmaud Arbery's mother Wanda Cooper-Jones reacts to autopsy photos entered into evidence during the trial of Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan in the Glynn County Courthouse, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. The three are charged with the February 2020 slaying of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)
Caption
Ahmaud Arbery's mother Wanda Cooper-Jones reacts to autopsy photos entered into evidence during the trial of Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan in the Glynn County Courthouse, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. The three are charged with the February 2020 slaying of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, clasped her hands and shut her eyes as the graphic photos were first shown. She later got up and walked out of the courtroom.

McMichael, his father Greg McMichael and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan face murder and other charges in the Feb. 23, 2020, shooting. The defendants argue they were attempting to detain Arbery, whom they suspected in a string of neighborhood break-ins. Attorneys for Travis McMichael contend he fired three times in self-defense during a tussle over the shotgun.

Leigh McMichael, Greg’s wife and Travis’ mother, was seen crying during a short break in testimony and was consoled by one of her husband’s attorneys.

Caption
Greg McMichael's wife, Leigh McMichael stands in the courtroom during the trial of Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan in the Glynn County Courthouse, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. The three are charged with the February 2020 slaying of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Greg McMichael's wife, Leigh McMichael stands in the courtroom during the trial of Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan in the Glynn County Courthouse, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. The three are charged with the February 2020 slaying of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)
Caption
Greg McMichael's wife, Leigh McMichael stands in the courtroom during the trial of Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan in the Glynn County Courthouse, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. The three are charged with the February 2020 slaying of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Donoghue acknowledged he initially found that the shotgun could have been fired from a few feet away. Only after viewing the cellphone video did he change his mind, finding the shotgun was fired much closer to Arbery’s torso. The video also helped Donoghue determine the sequence of the blasts.

Being able to determine which shot struck someone first is rare in his line of work, he said. After watching the video, he found the first shot struck Arbery’s chest and wrist simultaneously, the second missed completely and the third blast hit Arbery in the shoulder, causing his arm to go limp before he collapsed in the road.

ExploreComplete coverage of the Ahmaud Arbery case

Jurors were also shown photos of abrasions on Arbery’s face from his “unguarded fall” onto the pavement.

Donoghue, a renowned pathologist who formerly served as the chief medical examiner for Cook County, Illinois, was among the first to disclose that Tylenol had been laced with cyanide in 1982. The deaths of seven people led to major changes in the production of U.S. consumer goods, and tamper-proof packaging became common.

Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski noted Arbery’s fight-or-flight response, asking the medical examiner “What happens when you can’t run away any more?”

“It’s fight or flight, so after you could no longer flee you might fight,” Donoghue said.

ExploreListen to "Breakdown" Season 8: The Ahmaud Arbery case

Donoghue said the stress and fear accompanying the chase caused Arbery’s adrenal glands to go into overdrive. It also raised his blood pressure and heart rate, Donoghue testified. Arbery’s body shut down the blood supply to his gut so that more blood could go to his muscles. “This prepares you to run or to fight,” he testified.

On cross-examination, attorney Bob Rubin buttressed his client’s self-defense claim by noting that Arbery continued to fight even after the fatal shot.

Caption
Georgia Bureau of Investigation Forensic Pathology Specialist Dr. Edmund R. Donoghue, right, is cross examined by defense attorney Bob Rubin, left, in the trial of Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan in the Glynn County Courthouse, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. The three are charged with the February 2020 slaying of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Georgia Bureau of Investigation Forensic Pathology Specialist Dr. Edmund R. Donoghue, right, is cross examined by defense attorney Bob Rubin, left, in the trial of Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan in the Glynn County Courthouse, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. The three are charged with the February 2020 slaying of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)
Caption
Georgia Bureau of Investigation Forensic Pathology Specialist Dr. Edmund R. Donoghue, right, is cross examined by defense attorney Bob Rubin, left, in the trial of Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan in the Glynn County Courthouse, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. The three are charged with the February 2020 slaying of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

“You saw on the frame-by-frame that Mr. Arbery had his hand on the shotgun, correct?” Rubin asked. “You saw in the video and in the frame-by-frame that even with the wound to the wrist, Mr. Arbery was able to swing punches and hit Travis McMichael?

“Yes,” Donoghue replied.

“Nothing about that wound, the blood spurting or any other damage to the tissue prevented Mr. Arbery from holding the gun with one hand and swinging and hitting Mr. McMichael with the other,” Rubin noted.

“That’s correct,” the pathologist said.

Caption
William "Roddie" Bryan (left), Greg McMichael and Travis McMichael.

Credit: Pool photos

William "Roddie" Bryan (left), Greg McMichael and Travis McMichael.
Caption
William "Roddie" Bryan (left), Greg McMichael and Travis McMichael.

Credit: Pool photos

Credit: Pool photos

Rubin continued questioning Donoghue about Arbery’s final moments, asking if he knew exactly what may have triggered the fight-or-flight response.

“You have no idea what he was afraid of at that point time, correct?” Rubin asked.

“Well there was a man holding a shotgun out there,” the medical examiner said.

“Could have been afraid of being shot,” Rubin said.

“And there was a man following him in a pickup truck,” said Donoghue.

“Could have been afraid of being caught,” Rubin said.