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Jury finds men who murdered Ahmaud Arbery guilty on all charges in federal hate crimes trial

Throughout this federal trial, the prosecution has sought to establish a racial animus in the chase and murder of Arbery on Feb. 23, 2020.

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — A jury has reached a verdict in the federal hate crimes trial for the three white men convicted of killing a 25-year-old Black man, Ahmaud Arbery. They were found guilty on all charges.

The trial sought to determine if father and son, Gregory and Travis McMichael, and their neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan, violated Arbery's civil rights, which is a hate crime. The three men also faced an attempted kidnapping charge. The McMichaels faced additional charges for using and carrying a firearm during a violent crime, with Travis specifically being charged with discharging his weapon.

Below is a breakdown of the verdict.

Travis McMichael

  • Interference with rights — guilty
  • Attempted kidnapping — guilty
  • Carrying, brandishing, and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence — guilty

Last year during the state trial, Travis McMichael was found guilty of malice murder, four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, criminal attempt to commit a felony, and false imprisonment.

Greg McMichael

  • Interference with rights — guilty
  • Attempted kidnapping — guilty
  • Using, carrying, and brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence — guilty

Last year during the state trial, Gregory McMichael was found guilty of four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, criminal attempt to commit a felony, and false imprisonment.

William Bryan

  • Interference with rights — guilty
  • Attempted kidnapping — guilty

Last year during the state trial, Bryan was found guilty of three counts of felony murder, aggravated assault, criminal attempt to commit a felony, and false imprisonment.

The three men were convicted of murdering Arbery last year in a state trial and each received life in prison as a result of Georgia minimum sentencing guidelines. The federal hate crimes trial sought to determine if they also violated Arbery's civil rights and killed him because of the color of his skin.

Throughout this new trial, the prosecution has sought to establish a racial animus in the chase and murder of Arbery on Feb. 23, 2020 by the three men. 

Testimony included the recollections of neighbors and investigators, forensic and autopsy evidence and, in perhaps the most difficult day of the trial, the viciously racist and at-times violent texts and social media posts of Travis McMichael, along with racist communications by Greg McMichael and Bryan. Some of the evidence, including racially-charged texts and social media posts, presented during the federal trial wasn't included in the state trial.

One of the character witnesses who took the stand was a co-worker of Travis McMichael. She said she'd received racist comments by him over her relationship with a Black man.

Visibly upset members of the Arbery family left the courtroom several times during the proceedings, with his father Marcus Arbery saying one day, "I knew all that hate was in those men."

However, Travis McMichael‘s attorney, Amy Copeland, argued that a majority of the messages shown to the jury were private and that Travis McMichael was talking to like-minded people, and stated this was not a case about whether his beliefs should be punished. 

Gregory McMichael's attorney also argued the vast majority of the digital evidence came from the other two defendants and not from his client. Bryan's attorney claimed the text message evidence presented in court doesn't show his client being someone out to get Black people. 

But federal prosecutor Chris Perry pushed to drive home the defendants' actions on the day Arbery died during his closing argument for the prosecution. 

"There is a big difference between being vigilant and being a vigilante," he began. "He (Greg) didn’t call 911, he grabbed his son and he grabbed his gun...They were fueled by a mix of racial anger and pride."

Jurors, at varying times, asked if counseling would be available due to the graphic and unsettling nature of the evidence and testimony in the case. They have been told by the judge that it will be available. 

DEATH OF AHMAUD ARBERY TRIAL COVERAGE

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