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Arbery’s 3 killers guilty of federal hate crimes


A jury in Brunswick, Ga., found defendants Travis McMichael, his father Greg McMichael, and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan guilty on all counts in a federal hate crimes trial.

The jury deliberated for four hours. At the heart of this case was a question of whether or not race was a motivating factor in why the three defendants chased and shot Ahmaud Arbery as he ran through their coastal Georgia neighborhood in February 2020. The defendants were charged with violating Arbery’s civil rights and kidnapping, and for the McMichaels, an additional charge of use of a firearm to commit a crime. The three men were convicted of murdering Arbery in a state trial last year and sentenced to life in prison.

To convict on this hate crimes charge, federal prosecutors were tasked with proving to the jury that the defendants targeted Arbery because he was Black. Prosecutors used four days of the trial to build their case, calling witnesses who recounted racist interactions with Greg and Travis McMichael. Prosecutors also spent a full morning going over racist and sometimes violent content from the defendants’ digital footprints, including texts and videos.

In the government’s closing arguments on Monday, prosecutor Christopher Perras asked “If Ahmaud was another white person jogging, would this have happened in the way that it did? If Ahmaud hadn’t been using public streets, would this have happened the way it did?” Perras said they acted on racial assumptions, racial resentment, and racial anger that had been building for years. “They didn’t need to talk about it. They knew what they were going to do,” Perras told jurors. “They grabbed their guns and went after him.”

After the federal verdict, members of Arbery’s family emerged from the courthouse with arms raised. “As a mother, I will never heal,” said Wanda Cooper-Jones, his mother. “They gave us a small sense of victory, but we will never get victory because Ahmaud is dead.”

The federal charges carry a maximum life sentence. The defendants will have 14 days to file appeals and a sentencing hearing will be set at a later date.


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