Attorneys Present Jurors With Dueling Portraits Of Ahmaud Arbery

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Ahmaud Arbery's sidesplitting connected Feb. 23, 2020, was mostly ignored until the video leaked and deepened a nationalist reckoning implicit radical injustice.

Prosecutors and defence attorneys connected Friday presented dueling portraits of Ahmaud Arbery, who was either an guiltless Black runner fatally changeable by 3 achromatic strangers oregon "a scary mystery" who had been seen prowling astir a Georgia neighborhood.

In her opening statement, authoritative Linda Dunikoski said the abbreviated cellphone video that stirred nationalist outrage implicit Arbery's slaying offered lone a glimpse of the onslaught connected the 25-year-old, who gave his pursuers nary crushed to fishy him of immoderate wrongdoing.

"They assumed that helium indispensable person committed immoderate transgression that day," Dunikoski said. "He tried to tally astir their motortruck and get mode from these strangers, full strangers, who had already told him that they would termination him. And past they killed him."

A defence lawyer for Travis McMichael, the antheral who changeable Arbery 3 times, enactment the shooting successful a overmuch antithetic light. Attorney Robert Rubin described Arbery to the assemblage arsenic "an intruder" who had 4 times been recorded connected video "plundering around" a neighboring location nether construction.

McMichael and his father, Greg McMichael, gave chase, hoping to detain Arbery until constabulary arrived, Rubin said, but Arbery refused to halt and lunged toward McMichael and his gun.

"It is simply a horrible, horrible video, and it's tragic that Ahmaud Arbery mislaid his life," Rubin said. "But astatine that point, Travis McMichael is acting successful self-defense. He did not privation to brushwood Ahmaud Arbery physically. He was lone trying to halt him for the police."

Arbery's sidesplitting connected Feb. 23, 2020, was mostly ignored until the video leaked and deepened a nationalist reckoning implicit radical injustice.

On that Sunday afternoon, the McMichaels equipped themselves and pursued Arbery successful a pickup motortruck arsenic helium ran done their vicinity conscionable extracurricular the larboard metropolis of Brunswick. A neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan, joined the pursuit and recorded graphic video of Travis McMichael shooting Arbery with a shotgun.

The pursuit started erstwhile a neighbour who's not charged successful the lawsuit called a nonemergency constabulary fig aft seeing Arbery wandering wrong a location nether construction, wherever information cameras had recorded him before.

Dunikoski said Greg McMichael aboriginal told constabulary that astatine 1 constituent during the pursuit helium shouted astatine Arbery, "Stop oregon I'll stroke your f—-ing caput off!"

When a constabulary serviceman who responded to the shooting asked Greg McMichael if Arbery had breached into a house, helium told the officer: "That's conscionable it. I don't cognize ... I don't know. He mightiness person gone successful somebody's house," according to Dunikoski.

"All 3 of these defendants did everything they did based connected assumptions — not connected facts, not connected evidence," Dunikoski said. "And they made decisions successful their driveways based connected those assumptions that took a young man's life."

As Dunikoski played the video of Arbery's decease for the jury, his mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, cried retired successful the courtroom and sobbed arsenic her lawyer tried to console her.

Rubin described Arbery arsenic a "scary mystery" to residents of a vicinity already connected borderline from thefts and spot crimes. Travis McMichael saw him extracurricular the location operation tract astatine nighttime 11 days earlier the shooting. When Arbery reached for his pocket, Rubin said, Travis Michael feared helium was reaching for gun.

That's wherefore the McMichaels grabbed guns earlier chasing Arbery, Rubin said, insisting they had probable origin to fishy Arbery had been stealing — and truthful astatine the clip could person legally detained him nether a Georgia instrumentality allowing citizen's arrests — which was repealed by authorities lawmakers successful effect to Arbery's death.

As Arbery ran toward the McMichaels' truck, arsenic seen connected the video, Travis McMichael raised the shotgun successful hopes that "he's going to deescalate the situation," Rubin said. Instead of moving past, Rubin said, Arbery turned toward Travis McMichael "swinging aggressively" with his fists.

Travis McMichael, Rubin said, recalled his firearms grooming from erstwhile helium served successful the Coast Guard: "Never suffer your weapon. And that's wherefore helium shoots."

"He has nary prime due to the fact that if this feline gets his gun, he's dormant oregon his dad's dead," Rubin said.

Greg McMichael was successful his driveway reupholstering vessel cushions erstwhile helium saw Arbery tally past "hauling ass" connected the time of the shooting, said Franklin Hogue, Greg McMichael's defence attorney.

"Greg McMichael was perfectly definite this was the guy, the aforesaid feline helium had seen connected surveillance video wrong a location wherever Greg had dependable reasons to judge theft had occurred, burglary," Hogue said.

Hogue said astir facts successful the proceedings are not successful dispute.

"The wherefore it happened is what this lawsuit is about," Hogue said. "This lawsuit is astir intent, beliefs, cognition — reasons for beliefs whether they were existent oregon not."

Bryan's attorney, Kevin Gough, deferred making an opening connection until aft prosecutors remainder their case.

All 3 defendants are lasting proceedings together, charged with execution and different felonies.

Arbery had been dormant for much than 2 months erstwhile Bryan's video of the sidesplitting leaked online successful May 2020. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation took implicit the lawsuit from section police. GBI agents arrested the McMichaels the adjacent day, and charged Bryan 2 weeks later.

Dunikoski described Arbery arsenic an "avid runner" and told the assemblage it was not astonishing for him to spell moving successful the Satilla Shores subdivision, which was little than 2 miles from his ain home.

When helium was killed, Arbery had nary limb and was carrying nary wallet oregon keys, Dunikoski said.

Arbery "couldn't adjacent person called for assistance if helium wanted to due to the fact that helium had nary cellphone connected him," she added.

Controversy erupted Wednesday, the last time of assemblage selection, erstwhile prosecutors objected to a last assemblage consisting of 11 achromatic jurors and 1 Black juror. They argued that defence attorneys had chopped 8 imaginable jurors from the last sheet due to the fact that they are Black, which the U.S. Supreme Court has declared unconstitutional.

Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley agreed that determination appeared to beryllium "intentional discrimination," but said Georgia instrumentality constricted his authorization to intervene due to the fact that defence attorneys stated non-racial reasons for excluding Black panelists from the jury

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.