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Prosecution argues Ahmaud Arbery was defenseless when he was ‘attacked and killed’

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The three men accused in Ahmaud Arbery's (pictured) murder did not act in self-defense because the black jogger was defenseless with 'no weapons' when he was shot and killed, a Georgia jury heard in court Monday

The three men accused in Ahmaud Arbery’s (pictured) murder did not act in self-defense because the black jogger was defenseless with ‘no weapons’ when he was shot and killed, a Georgia jury heard in court Monday

The three men accused in Ahmaud Arbery’s murder did not act in self-defense because the black jogger was defenseless with ‘no weapons’ when he was shot and killed, a Georgia jury heard in court Monday.  

‘Everybody in this case had a gun except for Ahmaud Arbery,’ Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski said in court.

The prosecutor told the jury that the defense would ‘try to convince you that Mr. Arbery was the attacker.’ 

Arbery had nothing on him when he was killed but his running clothes and sneakers. 

‘He was somehow threatening to them. Three on one, two pick up trucks, two guns. Mr. Arbery, nothing in his pockets. Not a cell phone, not a gun, not an ID,’ Dunikoski said. 

She continued: ‘They want you to believe that he is a danger. They are going to try that they were justified in their actions. Because here is the thing, you cannot claim self-defense under certain circumstances. If you are the initial unjustified aggressor you don’t get to claim self-defense. 

‘If you are committing a felony against somebody you don’t get to claim self-defense. And if you provoke somebody, if they defend themselves against you, and then you go , oh look he attacked me first, but you were the one who was provoking the attack – you don’t get to claim self-defense.’ 

She also argued the defendants had no right to detain him in an attempt to dispute the defense’s citizen’s arrest arguments.  

‘They made their decision to attack Ahmaud Arbery in their driveways because he was a black man running down the street,’ she said. ‘They killed him not because he’s a threat to them, but because he wouldn’t stop and talk to them.’  

The three defense teams will make their closing arguments before the jury begins deliberations.  

Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski told the jury told that the defense would 'try to convince you that Mr. Arbery was the attacker,' but alleged he had nothing on him during the incident: 'He was somehow threatening to them. Three on one, two pick up trucks, two guns. Mr. Arbery, nothing in his pockets. Not a cell phone, not a gun, not an ID'

 Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski told the jury told that the defense would ‘try to convince you that Mr. Arbery was the attacker,’ but alleged he had nothing on him during the incident: ‘He was somehow threatening to them. Three on one, two pick up trucks, two guns. Mr. Arbery, nothing in his pockets. Not a cell phone, not a gun, not an ID’

Dunikoski began closing arguments Monday in Arbery’s murder trial, alleging the defendants wrongly assumed the worst about the black jogger, demonstrated ‘malice aforethought’ when they illegally chased him through the streets of their Georgia suburb in pickup trucks and attacked him.

‘This case is about assumptions and driveway decisions. All three of these defendants made assumptions. Made assumptions about what was going on that day. And they made their decision to attack Ahmaud Arbery in their driveways because he was a black man running down the street,’ she argued.

‘The bottom line. They assumed he must have committed some crime that day. He was running real fast down the street, right. They did not call 911.

‘They wanted to stop him and question him before calling 911. How do we know, because that’s what they told police that night. That’s what they said on the scene. Hey, stop we want to talk to you.’

‘You can’t do that. So what’s going on here? You know what’s really going on here. Mr Arbery was under attack. They committed four felonies against him.

‘Then they shot and killed him. Not because he was a threat to them, but because he wouldn’t stop and talk to them. They were going him stop. We’re going to point a shotgun at you. That will make him stop. That should make him stop right here in your tracks because we want to talk to you.

‘And what did he do? He still ran away. For five minutes, ran away. Travis McMichael went to intercept him with that shotgun and he turned that corner. We can’t see if Mr Arbery attacked him. That doesn’t matter, because how fast did he shoot him. How fast did he just pull that trigger.

‘They shot and killed Ahmaud Arbery. They all acted as a party to the crime.

‘But for their actions, but for their decisions, but for their choices Ahmaud Arbery would be alive.’

Dunikoski told the jury that at most Arbery could be accused of trespass after jurors saw security-camera videos of him, dressed in his running clothes, walking around an empty, half-built house in Satilla Shores on several nights in late 2019 or 2020.

‘Let’s get real: he’s a ‘looky-loo,’ he’s going in there at night and he shouldn’t be doing this, we all know this, okay?’ she said.

The defendants have argued that they had a right to try to detain Arbery under Georgia’s citizen’s arrest law, which was repealed in the wake of outrage over the killing.

That law allowed anyone to detain a person if there is reasonable and probably knowledge that the person is fleeing a serious felony crime they just committed.

But trespassing is a misdemeanor, she said, and none of the defendants knew where Arbery had been or what he was doing before running past their driveways.   

Gregory McMichael, 65; his son Travis McMichael, 35; and their neighbor William ‘Roddie’ Bryan, 52, have pleaded not guilty to all charges including murder. 

The younger McMichael was the only defendant to take the stand during the trial and testified that he fired his shotgun at close range at Arbery in self defense. 

He said Arbery had grabbed at his gun after the five-minute chase through the defendants’ mostly white neighborhood of Satilla Shores on Feb. 23, 2020. 

McMichael also told the jury that the black jogger did not speak, brandish a weapon or directly threaten him before the he shot him dead. 

‘He did not threaten me verbally,’ McMichael said, however he added that he was ‘under the impression’ Arbery was a threat because he was running straight at him. 

McMichael also said he saw Arbery trying to get into the truck of neighbor Bryan who had joined in the pursuit of the black jogger. 

Lawyers for the three white men accused of murdering Arbery rested their case Thursday, but not before gunman Travis McMichael (pictured) told the jury that the black jogger did not speak, brandish a weapon or directly threaten him before the he shot him dead

Lawyers for the three white men accused of murdering Arbery rested their case Thursday, but not before gunman Travis McMichael (pictured) told the jury that the black jogger did not speak, brandish a weapon or directly threaten him before the he shot him dead

Bryan’s cellphone video of the killing sparked outrage when it emerged more than two months later and the public learned that the men involved had not been arrested.   

After ten days of dramatic testimony, the prosecution and lawyers for the McMichaels and Bryan finished presenting evidence to the jury on Thursday. 

During the trial, the defense argued that Travis McMichael shot Arbery three times in self-defense as the McMichaels and Bryan attempted to conduct a citizen’s arrest of young jogger, under their suspicion that he committed a burglary at a nearby property.

However, a Glynn County Police spokesperson later contradicted this sentiment, stating there had only been one burglary reported in the area more than seven weeks prior to the shooting. 

The defense further argued that the chasing of Arbery was justified under Georgia’s 19th-century citizen’s arrest law, which allows residents to detain another citizen if they suspect they committed a crime – which was repealed last year after outcry over the killing.  

Officer-worn body camera footage presented in court last Monday showed Gregory McMichael, 65, (left) consoling his son, Travis McMichael (right), after the 35-year-old shot Ahmaud Arbery

Officer-worn body camera footage presented in court last Monday showed Gregory McMichael, 65, (left) consoling his son, Travis McMichael (right), after the 35-year-old shot Ahmaud Arbery

Gregory McMichael (left) allegedly told police that he, his son (right) and their neighbor had Ahmaud Arbery (pictured on the pavement) 'trapped like a rat,' noting that the jogger 'knew he wasn't going to get away'

Gregory McMichael (left) allegedly told police that he, his son (right) and their neighbor had Ahmaud Arbery (pictured on the pavement) ‘trapped like a rat,’ noting that the jogger ‘knew he wasn’t going to get away’

In the video recorded by Bryan, Arbery can be seen trying to wrestle a shotgun from Travis McMichael's hands

In the video recorded by Bryan, Arbery can be seen trying to wrestle a shotgun from Travis McMichael’s hands

After being shot three times by the younger McMichael, the video shows Arbery collapsing to the pavement. He died on the scene

After being shot three times by the younger McMichael, the video shows Arbery collapsing to the pavement. He died on the scene

Prosecution vs. Defense: The arguments in Ahmaud Arbery’s murder trial

Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael and William Bryan are all charged with malice and felony murder in the February 2020 shooting death of black jogger Ahmaud Arbery.  

The McMichaels armed themselves and jumped in a pickup truck to pursue Arbery after he ran past their home from a nearby house under construction.

Their neighbor, Bryan, joined the chase in his own truck, telling police that he tried to run Arbery off the road and then recorded cellphone video as Travis McMichael fired three shotgun blasts before Arbery fell facedown in the street. 

The defendants also face charges of aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit a felony. 

During the trial, the prosecution aimed to prove that the defendants wrongly assumed the worst about Arbery.

The state also sought to rebut arguments that the defendants were attempting a valid citizen’s arrest, which required that someone have ‘reasonable and probable’ suspicion that a person is fleeing a serious crime they committed.

The defense argues that Travis McMichael shot Arbery three times in self-defense, as the McMichaels and Bryan attempted to conduct a citizen’s arrest of Arbery under their suspicion that he committed a burglary at a nearby property.

They also argued that the chasing of Arbery was justified under Georgia’s 19th-century citizen’s arrest law that was repealed after an outcry over the killing. 

The prosecution alleged the defendants wrongly assumed the worst about Arbery and demonstrated ‘malice aforethought’ when they illegally chased the 25-year-old through the streets in pickup trucks and shot him.

The state also sought to rebut arguments that the defendants were attempting a valid citizen’s arrest, which required that someone have ‘reasonable and probable’ suspicion that a person is fleeing a serious crime they committed.

Arbery had nothing on him besides his running clothes and shoes on the day he was shot. 

All three men have pleaded not guilty to murder and other counts, including federal-level hate crime charges, in the killing – and all three maintain that they were acting in self-defense.   

The video of the shooting, taken by Bryan on his cellphone, was widely seen on the internet in the months after Arbery’s death, and subsequently caused a national uproar – leading to charges to eventually be brought against the Brunswick men in June 2020. 

Shortly after the trial ended Thursday, Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, exited the courthouse and said: ‘It was 74 days before we got an arrest and now we’re here. I’m confident we will get a guilty verdict.’

He further stated he thought Arbery was armed at that time. 

After the incident, Brunswick police said nothing was stolen from the unfinished property – with its owner later saying through his lawyer that Arbery probably stopped there to take a drink of water from a working faucet. 

And while defense lawyers attested the men were legally trying to stop Arbery under a now-repealed Georgia citizen’s arrest law, Travis McMichael, however, repeatedly contradicted this sentiment during the trial, saying he chased Arbery only to ask him questions and that he wrongly believed his father had called 911.    

The defense rested its case Thursday. The three defense teams will make their closing arguments before the jury begins deliberations.

They have argued that the defendants had a right to try to detain Arbery under Georgia’s citizen’s arrest law, which was repealed in the wake of outrage over the killing.



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