Ahmaud Arbery killing trial: Jurors begin deliberating after prosecutor delivers


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Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski delivered her rebuttal early Tuesday, emphasizing to the jury that Arbery was accused of no crime and the defendants told police they knew of no crime he’d committed. She had almost two hours remaining after delivering the first part of her closing arguments ahead of the defense teams.

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Dunikoski seized on the defense notion that the McMichaels were scared — and that their Glynn County, Georgia’ s Satilla Shores neighborhood had been living in fear — because of crime in the area. That the armed men decided to chase Arbery for five minutes in their trucks is evidence alone they weren’t frightened, she said.

Agent testifies defendant accused in Arbery's killing said he had an 'instinct' the Black jogger had done something wrong

They had alternatives — including never chasing Arbery or calling police — but instead they chose to pursue Arbery even after he repeatedly eluded them, said Dunikoski. They committed aggravated assault with their trucks — and the McMichaels, with their guns — while trying to falsely imprison Arbery, she said. During the course of these felonies, Dunikoski said, they killed Arbery.

“If you take that out would he be alive?” she asked the jury. “It’s real simple. The answer is you can’t take out any of these crimes. If you take out any one of these crimes that they committed and he’s still alive. All of the underlying felonies played a substantial and necessary part in causing the death of Ahmaud Arbery.”

Claims that they were protecting their neighborhood appear spurious, Dunikoski said, when you consider the property owner never accused Arbery of any crime — aside from entering the property without incident — and nothing had been stolen there in the 14 months prior to Arbery’s fatal shooting. Dunikoski has also said the defendants can’t claim self-defense when Arbery, unarmed and on foot, tried for five minutes to elude three men, two of them armed, chasing him in a pair of pickup trucks.

She asked the jury: Why, if this was about stopping crime, did the McMichaels never mention a specific crime or citizen’s arrest to the police at the scene?

Following Dunikoski’s rebuttal, Judge Timothy Walmsley gave jurors instructions and said, for Bryan, he’d permit them to consider simple assault, reckless conduct or reckless driving in lieu of aggravated assault with a truck. Jurors began deliberating shortly thereafter.

Judge denies motion for mistrial

Defense lawyers made remarks Monday that legal experts felt were racially insensitive, and Dunikoski has insisted the defendants targeted Arbery “because he was a Black man running down the street.”

Travis McMichael testified he never saw Arbery armed, never heard Arbery threaten him and that Arbery showed no interest in conversing with McMichael.

The men acted on “assumptions and driveway decisions,” Dunikoski has said, and they had no immediate knowledge Arbery committed a crime, a key factor in claiming citizen’s arrest.

The defense moved for a mistrial, saying Dunkioski’s misstated the state’s now-defunct citizen’s arrest law. Walmsley denied the motion.

Along with his father, Gregory McMichael, and Bryan, his neighbor, Travis McMichael faces charges of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit a felony in the February 23, 2020, killing. The trio say they pursued Arbery only after suspecting him of burglary.
Travis McMichael testified he shot Arbery in self-defense after Arbery grabbed his gun. He told Dunikoski he was “scattered” and traumatized when he initially told police he didn’t know if Arbery grabbed the shotgun.

The men have pleaded not guilty. If convicted, they face maximum sentences of life in prison without parole.

Family objects to comments from defense attorney

On Monday, Hogue claimed Arbery repeatedly trespassed — and perhaps more — when entering a construction site in the neighborhood outside Brunswick.

“Turning Ahmaud Arbery into a victim after the choices that he made does not reflect the reality of what brought Ahmaud Arbery to Satilla Shores in his khaki shorts with no socks to cover his long, dirty toenails,” Hogue said.

Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, almost tripped leaving the courtroom, saying, “I gotta get out of here.”

Arbery was never charged with any crimes in the neighborhood. The owner of the property never said Arbery committed a crime, just that he was caught on camera at the site.

Race has been a key focus. Arbery is Black, and 11 of the 12 jurors are White. Ben Crump, an attorney for Arbery’s father, suggested race played a factor in the killing.

“They had dozens of other people who visited the home. Nobody chased them. Nobody said that they burglarized the home. Why is that?” Crump asked Monday.

It was a point important to Dunikoski’s rebuttal. Arbery had been to the under-construction property multiple times, she said, but he never stole anything.

Responding to defense implications Arbery could’ve been responsible for items stolen from a boat in 2019, Dunikoski noted property owner Larry English told police he had no idea who stole the…

Read More:Ahmaud Arbery killing trial: Jurors begin deliberating after prosecutor delivers

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