Prosecutors resumed their case on Tuesday against the three white men accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery after presenting evidence he said showed the defendants assumed a worse error regarding a black man running through a mostly white neighborhood in southern Georgia.
Over the course of eight days, prosecutors from the Cobb County District Attorney’s office played a mobile phone video filmed by one of the defendants, which shows another defendant, Travis McMichael, shooting three times at Arbery, 25, at point blank range.
McMichael, 35, and his father, 65-year-old Gregory McMichael, told investigators that they seized their weapons and jumped into their pickup truck after Arbery drove past their driveway on the afternoon of February 23, 2020, thinking he might be the same black man seen wandering in Nearby construction site.
Brian, 52, got into his pickup truck after the chase passed out of his driveway. He later told detectives that he tried to use the truck to block Arbery’s track on a road in Satilla Shores, a leafy residential area outside the small coastal town of Brunswick, before filming Arbery’s last moments.
Defense attorneys, who are due to present their cases to a jury in the coming days, argue that Arbery’s stalking was justified under Georgia’s 19th century Citizens’ Arrest Act that was repealed after a protest against the murder.
At the end of the chase, Arbery ran toward the younger McMichael, reached for the gun, and defense attorneys say McMichael fired in self-defense.
‘reasonable and probable’
Prosecutors sought to refute arguments that the defendants were trying to legally arrest a citizen, which would require someone to have a “reasonable and probable” suspicion that someone was fleeing a serious crime they had committed.
They showed the jury several CCTV videos of Arbery walking around a half house built on an unoccupied, unfenced estate near the McMichaels house.
They also showed a police video of the physically dressed police officer telling the McMichael family that no one knew who the young black man was who had been walking around the property, but nothing was picked up on the days he was seen there.
And they had the defendants’ private words to investigators read aloud in court, as they said they had never seen Arbery before he went through their entrances and didn’t know what he was doing before.
McMichael also said he shouted a graphic threat in the middle of the chase that he would shoot Arbery in the head if he didn’t stop.
The trial began October 18 in Glynn County Superior Court with nearly three weeks of jury selection, with the result that the jury that white plaintiffs complained was disproportionately.
Defense attorneys beat all but one black jury member from a county with about a quarter of its black population, but told the court that the strikes were for reasons unrelated to race.
Prosecutors called more than a dozen witnesses, mostly county police or state investigators, many of whom read aloud the transcripts of their interviews with the defendants.
“He was trapped like a rat,” Senior McMichael told a Glenn County detective a few hours after Arbery’s fatal chase. “I think he wanted to escape and realized that, you know, he wasn’t going to get away.”
Jurors were also shown video clips and photos of two gunshot wounds to Arbery’s chest.