Three white men convicted of stalking and killing young black Ahmaud Arbery while he was jogging in a mostly white Georgia neighborhood were found guilty on Tuesday of committing hate crimes and other related federal offenses. to the murder committed in 2020.
It is the first time that convicted of a high-profile murder like this one face a jury trial for hate crimes. In practice, the Court’s conclusion is that the defendants killed Arbery because he was black.
Travis McMichael, 36, his father, former police officer Gregory McMichael, 66, and a neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, 52, were found guilty of attempted kidnapping and violating Arbery’s civil rights by attacking him over his race, ending the trial of the case. The McMichaels were also convicted of a federal firearms charge.
Arbery was shot dead on February 23, 2020 after being chased by the three defendants while jogging in the Satilla Shores neighborhood near the coastal town of Brunswick.
In the US District Court, a predominantly white jury deliberated for about four hours, over two days, to reach Tuesday’s verdict. Hate crime, the most serious of the charges faced by the defendants, carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Last year, the three men had already been found guilty of the murder, and in January, they were sentenced to life in prison by a state court for the crimes of murder, aggravated battery, false imprisonment and criminal intent.
State prosecutors, however, avoided attributing a racist motivation to the murder, seeking only to prove that the three defendants were responsible for Arbery’s death.
High school football star Arbery was 25 when he was killed. He worked at a truck washing company and his father’s landscaping business.
The McMichaels insisted they did not act out of racial animosity but out of self-defense and because they believed Arbery looked suspicious when they saw him running through the streets after a series of burglaries in the neighborhood.
The trial revealed, however, that there were no robberies at the time of the crime, but thefts from unlocked cars. Federal prosecutors presented testimony from 20 witnesses and other evidence that they said proved the three men had a long history of making racist statements and insulting black people. The defense closed its case after calling only one witness.
There was never any dispute over the fact that young McMichael fired his shotgun three times at Arbery at close range.
The murder was videotaped by Bryan and sparked public outrage when it was posted on social media more than two months later, with no one arrested, despite Travis McMichael admitting to police that he shot Arbery.
Civil rights activists pointed to the delay in arresting the three men at the time as yet another example of law enforcement that allows white criminals to go unpunished in the unjustified murder of black people.
Arbery’s name was one of those frequently remembered in the wave of protests against racial injustice in the United States after another black man, George Floyd, also unarmed, was killed by a white police officer kneeling on his neck until he could no longer breathe. in May 2020.