Travis McMichael will appeal his guilty verdict, his attorney said Wednesday, according to The New York Times, in the hours after a jury found him guilty of malice murder and felony murder in the 2020 slaying of Ahmaud Arbery.
The murder trial, which came to a close on Wednesday, ended in Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael — his father — and neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan receiving convictions for various charges, including felony murder, aggravated assault, and false imprisonment. The three each face up to life in prison, and will be sentenced at a later date.
Jason Sheffield, an attorney, said that Travis and his father “honestly” believed “what they were doing was the right thing to do,” according to The New York Times.
Unlike Travis McMichael, Bryan and Gregory McMichael were found not guilty of malice murder, a homicide with malice.
The younger McMichael made the case for himself during the trial when he took the stand in his own defense and said that he only shot Arbery after Arbery “had his gun.” Those crucial moments were recorded on video by Bryan — a video that played a large role in bringing national attention to the case and served as key evidence during the trial.
Attorneys for the McMichaels argued during closing arguments that they were pursuing Arbery to make a citizen’s arrest, believing him to be a burglary suspect. Prosecutors, on the other hand, say that on the day of the incident, the McMichaels never actually told police they were looking to perform a citizen’s arrest.
Kevin Gough, an attorney for Bryan, argued in court that his client’s presence was “absolutely superfluous and irrelevant to the tragic death of Ahmaud Arbery.” He also filed several motions for a mistrial during court, none of which were successful.
Gough said after the verdict was read that he would file a motion for a new trial next week.
After the judge read the verdict, Wanda Cooper-Jones, Arbery’s mother, said she “never” expected this day to come. “But God is good,” she said. “Thank you — thank you for those who marched, those who prayed.”
“The verdict today was a verdict based on the facts, based on the evidence, and that was our goal, was to bring that to that jury so that they could do the right thing, because the jury system works in this country,” said lead prosecutor Linda Dunikoski after the verdict was announced, reports CBS News. “And when you present the truth to people and they can see it, they will do the right thing, and that’s what this jury did today in getting justice for Ahmaud Arbery.”
Chris Carr, the Georgia Attorney General, released a statement after the verdict, saying it brings “us one step closer to justice, healing and reconciliation for Ahmaud’s family, the community, the state and the nation.”
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