The trio is guilty of killing Ahmoud Arbery. What now?
Atlanta The murder was videotaped and shared around the world: Ahmaud Arbery ran towards and then around a parked pickup truck before its driver attacked him at close range with a shotgun.
Shortly after Travis McMichael was shot and killed by an Arbery on February 23, 2020, his father, Greg McMichael, told police how the couple armed themselves, chased after and surrounded the young black man “like a rat”. Neighbor William “Rudy” Brian told the officers that he had joined the manhunt and helped interrupt Arbery’s escape.
After a 13-day trial in Glenn County Courthouse in the coastal state of Georgia, a disproportionately white jury found the three white men guilty of murder. Each man was also convicted on fewer charges.
What are the charges against each man?
An indictment of nine counts charged the three men with one count of premeditated murder, four counts of murder, two counts of aggravated assault, one count of false imprisonment, one count of criminal attempt to commit a felony, and in this case false imprisonment.
Travis McMichael was convicted on all nine counts. Greg McMichael was convicted on all counts except for premeditated murder. Brian was convicted of two counts of felony murder, one count of aggravated assault, one count of false imprisonment, and one count of felony attempted felony.
What time do you spend in prison?
Both convictions for premeditated murder and a felony carry a minimum penalty of life imprisonment. The judge decides whether or not that comes with the possibility of parole. Even if the possibility of parole is granted, a person convicted of murder must serve 30 years before becoming eligible. Multiple convictions for murder are combined for sentencing purposes.
Murder can also be punishable by death in Georgia if the murder meets certain criteria and the attorney general chooses to seek the death penalty. The prosecution in this case did not.
Every aggravated assault shall be punished with imprisonment for a period of no less than one year but not exceeding 20 years. False imprisonment shall be punished with imprisonment from one to 10 years.
When will they be judged?
This is not clear yet. Supreme Court Justice Timothy Walmsley will set a date for sentencing.
Will there be appeals?
Appeals are almost certain in this case, said Ron Carlson, a law professor emeritus at the University of Georgia.
One possible basis for the appeal, he said, might be the exclusion of certain evidence from trial. Defense attorneys sought evidence of Arbery’s criminal record, records of his mental health and the fact that he was under surveillance. They also wanted to bear witness to the testimony of an expert in the use of force. But the judge ruled that none of that evidence would be accepted.
“They will argue that relevant evidence useful to the defense was ruled out by the trial judge and that was a mistake,” Carlson said.
It is also possible for appellate attorneys to find other grounds for appeal after examining transcripts and jury instructions, and speaking with the jurors.
Robert Rubin and Jason Sheffield, attorneys for Travis McMichael, said after the ruling that they intended to appeal the ruling. Sheffield said they had no second thoughts about prosecuting the case in the community where Arbery was killed rather than seeking to move it elsewhere. But he said, “It could certainly become part of the appeal.”
Are there any federal fees still outstanding?
Yes really. McMichaels and Bryan still face federal charges.
Months before the three go on trial on state murder charges, in April a federal grand jury indicted them with hate crimes. It is an entirely separate case and is not affected by the outcome of the state trial.
U.S. District Judge Lisa Goodbye Wood has set the jury selection for the federal trial to begin on February 7. The three men were charged with one count of interfering with civil rights and attempted kidnapping. The McMichaels family was also accused of using, carrying and brandishing a firearm during a violent crime.
The federal indictment says the men targeted Arbery because he was black.
Associated Press writer Ross Bynum in Brunswick, Georgia contributed to this report. Find AP coverage of the case: https://apnews.com/hub/ahmaud-arbery
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