The Irish Times

The Irish Times online. Latest news including sport, analysis, business, weather and more from the definitive brand of quality news in Ireland.

https://www.irishtimes.com/

Three men convicted of murdering black jogger Ahmaud Arbery.

Three white men were convicted of murder on Wednesday for chasing and shooting a black man named Ahmaud Arbery as he ran in their neighbourhood, with a Georgia jury rejecting a self-defence claim in a trial that once again probed America’s divisive issues of race and guns.

The verdict was delivered by the jury, consisting of one black man and 11 white men and women, after about a two-week trial in the coastal city of Brunswick in a case that hinged on whether the defendants had a right to confront the unarmed 25-year-old avid jogger last year on a hunch he was fleeing a crime.

Gregory McMichael (65), his son Travis McMichael (35), and their neighbour William “Roddie” Bryan (52) were charged with murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal intent to commit a felony. They face a minimum sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole.

Jurors reached their verdict on the second day of deliberations.

There was never any dispute that the younger McMichael fired his pump-action shotgun three times at Arbery at close range on February 23rd, 2020, in the suburban community of Satilla Shores. It was captured on a graphic cellphone video made by Bryan, stoking outrage when it emerged more than two months later and the public learned that none of the three men had been arrested.

Travis McMichael: Faces a minimum sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole. Photograph: Stephen B Morton/AP

Travis McMichael: Faces a minimum sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole. Photograph: Stephen B Morton/AP

Lawyers for the McMichaels argued that the killing was justified after Arbery ran past the McMichaels’ driveway in a neighbourhood that had experienced a spate of property thefts. Both McMichaels grabbed their guns and jumped in their pick-up truck in pursuit, with Bryan, unarmed, joining moments later.

Prosecutors said the defendants had “assumed the worst” about a black man out on a Sunday afternoon jog. He was chased by the defendants for about five minutes around the looping streets.

Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, looked up appearing to mouth silent prayer in the courtroom as the judge prepared to read out the verdict. As the first guilty verdict was read aloud, she sobbed aloud: “Oh!”

Her head sunk into her chest as she wept, with civil rights activist the Rev Al Sharpton gripping her hand. Arbery’s father Marcus Arbery leapt up and cheered.

Sheriff’s deputies came over and told him he had to leave.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Marcus Arbery said, and left.

The verdict follows a jury’s November 19th acquittal in another closely watched trial of an 18-year-old named Kyle Rittenhouse who fatally shot two men during racial justice protests in Wisconsin.

Both cases highlighted the broader issue of US gun violence that President Joe Biden has called a national embarrassment. In both, defendants claimed self-defence.

The three men face a federal trial next year on hate-crime charges, accused in an indictment of violating Arbery’s civil rights by embarking on the fatal chase because of his “race and colour”.

Some black Americans used a despairing phrase to describe a case seen as another example of black people falling under suspicion while innocently doing an everyday activity: “Running while black.”

Arbery’s name was added to those invoked in nationwide anti-racism protests in 2020 that erupted after the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, both of whom were black.

The prosecution was widely seen as another test case in how the US justice system handles instances of unarmed black people killed by white people. During the trial, there was almost no evidence presented or discussion of race as a motive.

The issue of race hung over the trial. A nearly all-white jury was selected, and one of the defecse lawyers repeatedly, but unsuccessfully, sought the removal of black pastors and civil rights leaders including the Rev Jesse Jackson from the courtroom.

Defense lawyers cited a Georgia law codified during the US civil war that allowed anyone to make a citizen’s arrest of someone they have reasonable suspicion is fleeing a serious crime they committed. The law was repealed in the wake of Arbery’s killing.

The elder McMichael’s lawyer, Laura Hogue, told jurors the defendants had a duty to catch Arbery, who she portrayed as a frightening burglar with “long dirty toenails”, using a description from the autopsy report.

Lead prosecutor Linda Dunikoski chided the defence for aiming to “malign the victim,” calling that “offensive”.

No evidence ever emerged connecting Arbery to any Satilla Shore thefts.

Travis McMichael, a former US coast guard mechanic and the only defendant to take the witness stand, tearfully testified that he fired in self-defence as Arbery grabbed the shotgun he was carrying while chasing him in the truck.

Under cross-examination by a prosecutor, he conceded he told the police hours after the shooting he could not say for sure if Arbery actually grabbed the gun. – Reuters

There's nothing more anti-American than this: Steve Hilton.

There's nothing more anti-American than this: Steve Hilton.

'The Next Revolution' host reflects on the state of America today on Thanksgiving weekend #FoxNews #SteveHilton Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: Watch Fox News Channel Live: FOX News Channel (FNC) is a 24-hour all-encompassing new...

3 333

Coronavirus Omicron Variant Leads to New Concerns and Travel Restrictions.

Coronavirus Omicron Variant Leads to New Concerns and Travel Restrictions.

More cases of the new omicron variant of the coronavirus are being discovered around the world. U.S. President Joe Biden’s senior health adviser says omicron “appears” to be more transmissible than other variants, but health officials are still no...

Brett Favre reflects on the unifying power of sports.

Brett Favre reflects on the unifying power of sports.

Football legend Brett Favre shares how sports are a ‘galvanizing’ way to bring people together on ‘Sunday Night in America.’ #FoxNews #Gowdy Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: Watch Fox News Channel Live: FOX News Channel (FNC) is a...

Omicron COVID variant: Labour says 'we need to do more'.

Omicron COVID variant: Labour says 'we need to do more'.

Labour Deputy Leader Angela Rayner says the government should instruct people to wear masks in all indoor places and people should work from home to combat the Omicron variant. Six cases of the new variant have been identified in Scotland, in addi...

What happened to 'objective truth' in America?: Steven Pinker.

What happened to 'objective truth' in America?: Steven Pinker.

Pinker discusses rationality in the American discourse on 'Sunday Night in America' #FoxNews #TreyGowdy Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: Watch Fox News Channel Live: FOX News Channel (FNC) is a 24-hour all-encompassing news servic...

1

Omicron COVID: Health Secretary says 'we can't stop it'.

Omicron COVID: Health Secretary says 'we can't stop it'.

Health Minister Edward Argar says it's 'early days' understanding the severity of the Omicron variant but he 'does not anticipate' a holiday lockdown. Speaking to Sky's Kay Burley, he said the government is trying to slow the new variant down, but...