According to the US Department of Justice, the defendants acted based on racial enmity. The prosecution claims that defendants suspected Ahmaud Arbery because he was black.
A United States federal prosecutor told jurors at the defendants’ hate-crimes trial that the three white males who murdered Ahmaud Arbery hunted him down and killed him because of “racial preconception.”
The guys thought they recognized Arbery from earlier footage showing a trespasser on a nearby property, and they were attempting to safeguard the neighborhood, according to defense counsel.
At the defendants’ hate-crimes trial, a federal prosecutor in the United States informed jurors that, when the guys spotted a Black man in their neighborhood, they assumed the very worst.
According to Perras (a special litigation counsel for the US Justice Department’s civil rights division), the defendants – Travis McMichael, 36; his father, former police officer Gregory McMichael, 66; and neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan, 52 were motivated by racial assumption, racial resentment, and racial anger,” – but Bryan’s attorney, Pete Theodocion, argued that the evidence of racism was only circumstantial.
Prosecutors presented evidence throughout the trial that the defendants exchanged racist text messages and social media posts in the months and years leading up to the shooting.
The trial is close to the second anniversary of Arbery’s death, which was February 23, 2020. Jurors were dispatched to begin proceedings on Monday afternoon.
In state court in November, the defendants were found guilty of murder. The McMichaels were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, whereas Bryan might be released after 30 years.
The federal trial is still going on, and it’s trying to figure out if it was a hate crime or not.
“I’d murder that f***ing n*****,” Travis McMichael said on a Facebook video of a Black man performing a joke on a white individual in 2018.
According to defense attorneys, there is no proof that McMichael committed any acts of racial violence.
Gregory McMichael’s defense attorney, AJ Balbo, termed Arbery’s death “an American tragedy.”
To emphasize this argument, the defense claims that in 2019, the elder McMichael reported a white homeless guy living beneath a nearby bridge to the authorities after accusing him of stealing in the area.
After fatally shooting Arbery in 2020, local prosecutors initially declined to prosecute the three men.
The defendants claimed they acted in self-defense since Georgia had a legislation allowing citizens’ arrests at the time.
After the killing of George Floyd sparked nationwide outrage, the law was repealed.
After a video of the incident, which was captured by Bryan, went public, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the investigation and arrested the three men.
Travis McMichael and his father had agreed to a plea agreement with the prosecution over the hate-crime allegations, which would have avoided a trial and allowed them to serve the first 30 years of their life sentences in federal prison.
However, the arrangement was dismissed by a US judge late last month, citing the Arbery family’s objections to its conditions. Following the judge’s judgment, the defendants retracted their guilty pleas.