The defense team rested its case on Friday in the trial involving the death of Ahmaud Arbery.
As reported by NPR, “Judge Timothy Walmsley released the jury until Monday when they’re expected to hear closing arguments.”
Three white men, Travis McMichael, his father, Gregory McMichael, and their neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, are facing charges in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, including murder and aggravated assault. They could spend their lives in prison.
Travis McMichael, 35, took the stand at the trial in Georgia this week.
In February 2020, Travis and Gregory McMichael grabbed guns and chased Arbery after he ran past their home. Bryan followed after and recorded video on his phone of the event. Arbery was shot by Travis McMichael after a confrontation between the two.
Head prosecutor Linda Dunikoski cross-examined Travis McMichael on Thursday.
“Not once during your statement to the police did you say that you and your father were trying to arrest Mr. Arbery, did you?” Dunikoski asked.
“‘No, ma’am,’ McMichael answered. He later said he never had time to tell Arbery that he was under arrest for any crime,” NPR reported.
The outlet noted that there were new facts discussed on Thursday.
McMichael introduced two new details on Thursday — first, by saying that during the chase, Arbery briefly stopped running, and second, by saying that Arbery took off again after McMichael told him the police were coming.
Dunikowski questioned him about those details, saying McMichael had not relayed them in earlier statements to police. McMichael said he was nervous and traumatized after the shooting.
The outlet continued:
Dunikoski reviewed McMichael’s actions and statements about the McMichaels’ chase. She has previously said the pursuit lasted five minutes.
The prosecutor noted that McMichael told Arbery to stop; McMichael says it was a request, not an order. He also confirmed that when he was chasing Arbery, the man wasn’t carrying anything — a bag, backpack or a weapon.
“Yes, he was just running,” McMichael said.
He then said he didn’t think he startled Arbery when he drove his pickup truck up alongside him.
“I want to talk to you,” McMichael said he told Arbery.
At that point, Arbery stopped, turned and started running back the way he came, he said.
McMichael says he reversed his truck to follow Arbery and asked him what had happened near the house where Arbery had been seen moments before.
McMichael also spoke about his training in the Coast Guard, where “his duties also included law enforcement and search-and-rescue operations, he said,” NPR reported. McMichael also mentioned two previous occasions when he drew a gun in order to protect himself, acting as a civilian.
As reported by the Associated Press, “[McMichael] said he first ran into Arbery at the house under construction on Feb. 11, 2020. McMichael said he was driving when he saw a man ‘lurking’ and ‘creeping’ outside the home. He turned his vehicle to point his headlights on Arbery, he said, and the man tried to hide behind a portable toilet at the construction site.”
“He comes out and pulls up his shirt, and goes to reach in his pocket or waistband area,” McMichael said.
“It freaked me out,” said McMichael, who after that went to his house and called 911. “Once I realized what’s going on, he’s doing this, I’m under the assumption he’s armed. I jumped back into the vehicle and he runs into the house.”
“McMichael told defense attorneys he moved into the neighborhood in 2018 and grew concerned about car break-ins, ‘suspicious persons’ and the theft of his pistol,” reports USA Today of the trial. “McMichael said he would often discuss crime with neighbors, some of whom began installing surveillance cameras on their houses, and his family, including father Greg McMichael.”
“I want to give my side of the story,” McMichael said on Wednesday.
McMichael gave an emotional testimony, admitting on the stand, “I shot him.” When asked why he shot him, McMichael said, “He had my gun. He struck me, it was obvious that he was … attacking me, that if he [would] have [gotten] the shotgun from me, then it was a … life or death situation.”
McMichael appeared to choke up a few times and wiped his eyes after saying it “was a blur” after he realized Arbery was dead and the police were there.
At the time of the shooting, a citizen’s arrest law in Georgia permitted people to “arrest” a person under certain conditions if they committed a crime. Since the video of Arbery’s shooting was released, that law has since been repealed and replaced.
The defense has held that the three men were attempting to make a citizen’s arrest of Arbery, and Travis McMichael shot in self-defense.
As reported by WSB-TV2 Atlanta, “The judge ruled Friday afternoon that under Georgia’s old citizen’s arrest law, the one applied in this case, the arrest would have to occur right after any felony crime was committed, not days or months later.”
“If you are going to instruct the jury as you say, you are directing a verdict for the state,” said Bob Rubin, the lawyer for Travis McMichael.
The shooting didn’t receive much national focus until a short video was released of the encounter in May 2020.
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