Ahmaud Arbery trial: Guilty convictions were a response to prayers, the family said. Here’s what’s coming next

When the first verdict was read, Marcus Arbery Sr., Arbery’s father, jumped up and cheered, according to a pool reporter in the room.

“I never saw this day back in 2020, I never thought this day would come,” said Ahmaud Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, as she stood right outside the courthouse doors after the verdicts.

She thanked God and all the people who marched and prayed for her family.

“Quez, as you know him as Ahmaud, I know him as Quez. He will now rest in peace,” his mother told the crowd of people who had celebrated after hearing the news.

“The verdict today was a verdict based on facts, based on the evidence, and it was our goal, was to bring it to the jury so they could do the right thing,” prosecutor Linda Dunikoski said, adding, “the jury system works in this country. “

Now, questions about sentencing, the appeals process and additional federal charges for Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan Jr. answered.

Trio risks life imprisonment

Judge Timothy Walmsley has not yet set a sentencing date for the three convicted men.

The jury on Wednesday found Travis McMichael guilty of malicious murder, four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, one count of false imprisonment and one count of criminal attempt to commit a crime in Arbery’s death on 23 February 2020, just outside. Brunswick, Georgia.

His father, Gregory McMichael, was only acquitted of a charge of malicious murder and was found guilty of the other charges he and his son faced.

Bryan was found guilty of three counts of felony murder, one count of aggravated assault, one count of false imprisonment and one count of criminal attempt to commit a crime. He was acquitted of malicious murder, one felony of murder and one of aggravated assault.

The men now risk a sentence of up to life in prison without the possibility of parole for each of the murder charges, 20 years for each of the charges of aggravated assault, 10 years for the false prison charge and 5 years for the criminal attempt to commit a charge. Walmsley will decide whether the sentences should be served consecutively or concurrently.

Prosecutors have indicated they will seek life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Defense attorneys plan to appeal

Jason Sheffield and Bob Rubin, lawyers for Travis McMichael, said they planned to appeal the verdict.

When asked about the location of the trial, Sheffield said he was confident their decision not to apply for a change of venue would be discussed “ad nauseam” and could be part of a future appeal, but said they had no further consideration of the decision.

“I can honestly tell you that these men are saddened by what happened to Ahmaud Arbery,” Sheffield said. “They are sad that he is dead, they are sad about the tragedy that happened because of the choices they made to go out there and try to stop him.”

Kevin Gough, Bryan’s attorney, said he planned to appeal the decision regarding his client, noting: “We believe the appellate courts will overturn this ruling.”

During the trial, Gough made remarks that were widely considered insensitive, asking the court to prevent high-profile black priests from sitting in the public gallery. And a prosecutor told CNN on Wednesday that the decision to raise the issue may have been deliberate to help with an appeal.

Gough said on November 11 that he “had nothing personally against” Pastor Al Sharpton, who was present with Arbery’s family, adding: “We do not want more black pastors coming in here or any other Jesse Jackson, whoever was in here earlier in the week, sitting with the victim’s family and trying to influence a jury in this case. “

Prosecutors in the trial of Ahmaud Arbery's killers explain why they trusted the jury despite its racial composition
Walmsley ruled that as long as the trial was not disrupted, there would be no comprehensive ban. Gough apologized for his remarks the next day.
Pastor Jesse Jackson had not turned up at the time of the comments, but later sat in the gallery with Arbery’s parents.

Dunikoski, the prosecutor, told CNN’s Jim Acosta after the verdict that Gough’s comments about black priests – though made without the jury present – were strategic.

“Mr Gough is a very, very good lawyer, and he, in my opinion, purposefully and deliberately and strategically did what he did in an attempt to try to insert a potential error in the case, if he lost the case, and the went up in appeal, she said.

Federal charges await

All three were indicted in April on separate federal charges of hate crimes, which include violations of rights and attempted kidnapping, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Travis and Gregory McMichael were also charged with using, carrying, waving and firing a firearm during and in connection with a violent crime.

Federal prosecutors said all three men “used force and threats of force to intimidate and interfere with Arbery’s right to use a public street because of his race.”

McMichaels and Bryan pleaded not guilty to the federal charges.

Biden says the guilty verdicts in the murder of Arbery 'reflect that our justice system is doing its job'

Sheffield and Rubin said on behalf of Travis McMichael after the federal indictment: “We are deeply disappointed that the Department of Justice bought the false narrative that the media and state prosecutors have published.”

Arbery Sr.’s attorney Ben Crump said at the time: “This is a major milestone in the U.S. uphill march against racial justice, and we applaud the Department of Justice for addressing this heinous act for what it is – a purely evil, racially motivated hate crime. “

The federal trial is set to take place in February. Since being detained for state prosecution, there has been no federal bond hearing yet.

If convicted of the federal charges, they could risk an additional sentence of up to life in prison.

CNN’s Chris Boyette, Amir Vera, Angela Barajas and Madeline Holcombe contributed to this report.


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