The attorneys for the McMichaels and Bryan contend the three men were attempting to make a lawful citizen’s arrest because they suspected Arbery of entering a vacant home under construction. The state has pushed back against those claims, saying Arbery never took anything from the house.
Following the state’s rebuttal, Judge Timothy Walmsley provide the jury with the relevant laws that should guide their deliberations. This included the Georgia citizen’s arrest law that was repealed last year and the laws guiding justified self-defense.
Meanwhile, more than 300 miles away, the Atlanta Police Department is monitoring the trial in preparation for any protests that may occur following a verdict.
“We will continue monitoring the court proceedings and we stand ready to respond to demonstrations to ensure the safety of those in our communities, of those exercising their first amendment right or to address illegal activity, should the need arise,” the agency said in a statement.
WARNING: Viewer discretion advised.
Here is the latest from the courtroom:
[11:22 a.m.]: Judge Walmsley has given the case to the jury for deliberation. He has instructed them not to begin deliberating until they have been provided with a copy of the indictment.
[10:57 a.m.]: The court is giving the juror the definitions of the charges. First, Walmsley explains malice murder. He says the state must prove that the defendant caused the death of another person unlawfully with malice. Malice is not necessarily ill will or hatred. Rather, it is the deliberate intention to kill without provocation.
Walmsley says the state does not have to prove a motive in order to prove murder.
He then explains felony murder, which is when a person causes the death of another person while committing a felony. One can be convicted of felony murder even if they did not intend for the death to occur.
For aggravated assault, the judge says the defendant must have caused a violent injury to a person or have put the person in a situation where they had a reasonable fear of bodily injury.
Walmsley says in lieu of an aggravated assault charge for Roddie Bryan, the jury can consider simple assault, reckless conduct or reckless driving.
“If you do not believe beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant William R. Bryan is guilty of aggravated assault... but you do believe that defendant William R. Bryan is guilty of one of the lesser offenses, you must find the defendant William R. Bryan guilty of the lesser offense,” he says.
Lastly, he explains false imprisonment.
The judge next tells the jury about the defenses the defense team has raised. He explains the law for self-defense and making a lawful citizen’s arrest.
Walmsley says the guilt of each defendant should be decided separately.
[10:46 a.m.]: The judge says the three men face a count of malice murder, four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, one count of false imprisonment and a count of criminal attempt to commit a felony. He reminds them that each defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. He says the state is burdened to prove that the defendants are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, but it is not burdened to prove that they are guilty beyond all doubt.
All jurors have their eyes fixed on the judge as he reads the instructions.
[10:43 a.m.]: Court has returned from recess. The jury has entered the courtroom, and the judge is giving them instructions on the laws applicable to the case.
[10:27 a.m.]: Dunikoski says the defendants know what they did and why they did it.
“When you come back with your guilty verdict, you’re just saying ‘we know what you did, too.’”
The state has completed its closing argument. The court has entered a 10-minute recess.
[10:22 a.m.]: Dunikoski remarks on Greg McMichael’s actions at the crime scene following Arbery’s death. She says McMichael walked around conversing with neighbors while Arbery lay dying in the street.
“And what does he say? ‘This guy ain’t no shuffler. This guy’s an asshole.’ Malice, right there,” she says.
[9:50 a.m.]: Dunikoski says the defense team has given the jurors a lesson in criminal defense. The first thing a criminal defense lawyer will attempt to do, she says, is to prove that no crime had been committed. However, in the case of Ahmaud Arbery’s death, the alleged crime has been captured on video. She says the next thing a defense lawyer would try would be to claim that though a crime was committed, their client was not the person who committed it. In the case of Arbery’s death, Travis McMichael was captured on video fatally shooting the 25-year-old.
“Criminal defense step three: it’s the victim’s fault,” she says, adding that that’s why the defense is attempting to portray Arbery as a burglar and a man who charged at a person holding a loaded shotgun.
[9:23 a.m.]: The jury is being brought back into the courtroom. The state’s closing statements will continue.
[9:08 a.m.]: The defense attorneys have motioned for a mistrial. The jury has been escorted out of the room for further discussion.
[9:02 a.m.]: Dunikoski says the McMichaels showed no regard for how Arbery may have been feeling while being pursued in Satilla Shores.
“How about some empathy? Remember LEAPS?” she says, referencing a mnemonic device Travis McMichael said his training was based on. “Listen, empathize. Where’s Travis McMichael’s empathy?”
She continues, saying she wonders if the McMichaels ever questioned what the situation looked like from Arbery’s point of view. She asks if they thought to themselves, “I wonder if you may be scaring or startling this person. I wonder if it may be so bad that they might react in a negative way.”
[8:57 a.m.]: Dunikoski says that in determining if Travis McMichael’s actions were reasonable, his previous training is irrelevant.
“The danger to you has to be imminent,” she says. “’I am about to be killed,’ not ‘some guy I’ve been chasing for five minutes is running at me.’”
[8:50 a.m.]: Dunikoski tells the jurors that Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and Roddie Bryan committed four felonies against Ahmaud Arbery, and those felonies contributed to his death. She reminds them of two of the charges the three men face: aggravated assault and false imprisonment.
“If they hadn’t put him in reasonable fear of receiving serious bodily harm so that he ran away from them, would he be dead? The answer is no,” she says. “Therefore that substantially contributed to his death.”
[8:39 a.m.]: Linda Dunikoski, one of three state prosecutors trying the case, has begun addressing the jury. She is offering a rebuttal to the defense team’s closing arguments.
[8:36 a.m.]: Court is now in session.