Three white men were found guilty Wednesday of felony murder in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man who was running in their neighborhood when they confronted him last year. It’s a case that the whole nation was following after a string of other racially charged murders of Black men throughout the year.
The nearly all-white jury had a lot of people nervous that the men would get off scot-free, but they convicted Travis McMichael of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit a felony.
His father, Gregory McMichael, and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan were acquitted of the top charge. All three now face up to life in prison.
The defense tried to paint Arbery in a light that said he had mental health problem. They even wanted to have access to his mental health records.
According to ABC News, the 25-year-old slain Black man could not have his medical records accessed by the defense and used as trial evidence. Judge Walmsley instantly denied the defense’s plan to paint Arbery as an aggressor with mental health problems.
The judge ruled that Arbery’s medical privacy, even in death, trumped the rights of the trio standing trial. He also concluded that a registered nurse’s “highly questionable diagnosis” that Arbery suffered from mental illness during his first and only visit to a mental health services provider in 2018 could unfairly prejudice a trial jury, NBC News reports.
“There is no evidence that the victim was suffering from any mental health issue, or had otherwise decompensated, on February 23, 2020,” the date Arbery was killed, the judge’s ruling said.
Prosecutors always maintained that Arbery was jogging on that date when the McMichael family armed themselves and chased Arbery in a pickup truck. Bryan took cellphone video of the moment Travis McMichael fatally shot Arbery. He and the father-and-son duo contend that Arbery was a burglar after video cameras recorded him inside a home under construction.
Arbery was unarmed when he was killed by three shotgun blasts at close range.
The McMichaels duo and Bryan were arrested and charged with murder after the video was leaked online more than two months later, on May 5. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case the next day and swiftly arrested all three men.
“Even though this is not a celebration, it is a reflection to acknowledge that the spirit of Ahmaud defeated the lynch mob,” civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing Arbery’s father, Marcus Arbery, said outside the courthouse Wednesday afternoon.
Wanda Cooper-Jones, Arbery’s mother, said that her son “will now rest in peace.”
“It’s been a long fight. It’s been a hard fight,” she said. “I never saw this