UPDATE: 3 men convicted of hate crimes in Ahmaud Arbery’s killing
The 2020 shooting death of the 25-year-old black man has put the southeast Georgia town of Brunswick into the national spotlight.
Jury deliberations began on Tuesday, Nov. 23. Opening arguments in the trial began in early November. The jury included 11 white jurors, one black man. Journalists from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution have been covering the trial.
Here is what we know about this case:
1. Ahmaud Marquez Arbery was shot to death Feb. 23, 2020, as he jogged through Satilla Shores, a mostly white community a few miles from his Brunswick home. Arbery loved sports and had once dreamed of a football career. Jogging was his way of staying fit, friends and family said. He was a 2012 graduate of Brunswick High School and later attended South Georgia Technical College.
<< COMPLETE COVERAGE: Follow updates about the trial and news about the Ahmaud Arbery case from the AJC
2. Two men pursued Arbery as he ran. Cellphone video released by an attorney starts with Arbery, dressed in shorts and a T-shirt, jogging at a leisurely pace. By the end of the roughly 36-second clip, he collapses after several shots are heard. Arbery died from his injuries. Greg and Travis McMichael, the father and son who confronted Arbery, told authorities they suspected Arbery of burglaries, and that he became violent when confronted.
Roddie Bryan, a neighbor, soon joined the chase in his own pickup truck and took a cellphone video of the final moments of Arbery’s life.
3. Questions surround Arbery's death. More than five hours after her son's death, Wanda Cooper-Jones got a call from investigators, she told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
"Your son was involved in a robbery," Cooper-Jones said she was told. "There was a confrontation with a homeowner. There was a fight over the handgun. Your son was shot, and he was shot multiple times."
Arbery’s funeral was held Feb. 29, 2020. In addition to his parents, he is survived by a brother, sister, grandmother, two nephews and 10 aunts, according to his online obituary.
4. No charges were filed initially in the case. Greg McMichael, a former Glynn County cop, most recently worked as an investigator with the local district attorney's office.
• His former boss, Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jackie Johnson, eventually recused herself from the Arbery case. Johnson was defeated for re-election in November 2020, losing to Keith Higgins.
• Waycross Judicial Circuit County’s top prosecutor, Roger Barnhill, took over after Johnson recused herself but stepped aside at the request of Arbery’s family.
• On Thursday, May 7, 2020, the AJC learned that in his letter of recusal, Barnhill disclosed that his own son and Greg McMichael had helped with a previous prosecution of Arbery while working for DA Jackie Johnson’s office.
• On Friday, May 8, two Glynn County commissioners said Johnson's office had refused to allow Glynn police officers to make arrests immediately after the shooting death. Johnson later denied this allegation.
• In November 2020, Keith Higgins was elected district attorney for Glynn County.
5. Glynn officers threatened. On April 29, 2020, the Glynn County Police Department requested that the GBI investigate allegations of threats against those involved in the investigation. When video of the Ahmaud Arbery shooting is released, the clip goes viral. Glynn police ask the GBI to investigate the video’s release. By now, Arbery’s case is the subject of countless social media posts by politicians, celebrities and other notables.
Credit: Glynn County Detention Center via AP
Credit: Glynn County Detention Center via AP
6. GBI charges the McMichaels with murder. Less than two days after taking over the investigation, the GBI announced the arrests of both McMichaels late Thursday. Both father and son were charged with murder and aggravated assault. At a press conference Friday morning, GBI director Vic Reynolds said additional arrests are possible in the case, which remains under investigation. Outside the Glynn County courthouse, hundreds attend a rally on what would've been Arbery's 26th birthday.
7. Georgia AG asks feds to investigate. Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr has asked the Department of Justice to look into how the investigation into Ahmaud Arbery's death was handled. Arbery's parents welcomed the news, according to their attorneys.
“We have requested the involvement of the DOJ since we first took this case,” the attorneys’ statement read. “There are far too many questions about how this case was handled and why it took 74 days for two of the killers to be arrested and charged in Mr. Arbery's death.”
8. Cobb DA to prosecute case. Cobb County District Attorney Joyette Holmes was chosen to lead the prosecution of the McMichaels. Holmes was the fourth DA on the case. She was defeated for re-election in November 2020. Her successor, Flynn Broady, now oversees the case. On April 26, Broady said Linda Dunikoski would be the lead prosecutor.
9. A federal grand jury in Brunswick handed up an indictment adding hate crime charges against the three suspects on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. The indictment alleges Travis McMichael, his father Greg McMichael and Roddie Bryan used force and threats of force to intimidate and interfere with Arbery’s right to use a public street because of his race. The federal charges are pending.
10. At the urging of Gov. Brian Kemp, the Georgia Legislature approved an overhaul of Georgia’s citizen’s arrest law in 2021. The citizen’s arrest law came under renewed scrutiny last year after it was cited by a prosecutor to justify not bringing charges against the men involved in Arbery’s death.
11. The trial on state charges was heard in Glynn County Superior Court by a visiting judge, Timothy Walmsley, because local judges had recused themselves in the case. Walmsley is based in Chatham County.
Opening statements in the trial of the McMichaels and Bryan began in a Glynn County court Friday, Nov. 5. The 12 jurors include just one Black man. All the others are white. The panel of 16, which includes 12 trial jurors and four alternates, consists of four men and 12 women.
The jury began deliberations about noon on Tuesday, Nov. 23, stopping about 6 p.m. Deliberations resumed at 8:30 Wednesday, and the verdict was read in court at about 1:20 p.m., following 11 hours of deliberation. Sentencing has not been scheduled. The defendants could face life in prison without parole.
12. The McMichaels and Bryan also face federal hate crime charges in Arbery’s death. U.S. District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood has set a trial date of Feb. 7. A federal grand jury indicted the three men on one count each of interference with civil rights and attempted kidnapping. The McMichaels are also charged with using, carrying and brandishing a firearm during a violent crime.