Georgia Defendants Convicted in the Ahmaud Arbery Case

With their conviction in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, 25, three defendants (Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael, and William “Roddie” Bryan Jr.) are now looking at life in prison. The trial was a testament to two key elements in the criminal justice system: the integrity of the American jury and the power of videotape evidence .

 A jury of eleven white jurors and one African American jury ran the table on the defendants in convicting them all for their roles in chasing down Arbery, trapping him, and then ultimately killing him. It was the same racial make up as the jury in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse where eleven white jurors and one black juror acquitted the defendant on all counts. The jurors in both cases took careful deliberation of the evidence and rendered verdicts based on that evidence. They transcended the passions and the demands of the public at large to do justice as required under our laws.

The Arbery case is also an example of the impact of videotape evidence. It is the latest such case where legal arguments could not overcome indelible film images. That was the case in the George Floyd trial. It was also the case in Rittenhouse. The two cases resulted in different verdicts but both verdicts were propelled by videotapes at the scene. The jury could not see a legitimate police function in the actions taken by Officer Derek Chauvin.  Conversely, they could see a legitimate claim of self-defense in the action of Kyle Rittenhouse. All of the lawyering in the world could not get a jury to unsee what they saw in those videos.

There are also notable comparisons to the trial of Trayvon Martin where there was no such videotaped evidence. The underlying defense claims were strikingly similar. Both George Zimmerman and the Georgia defendants claimed that they pursued a suspected felon and that the shooting occurred only after the deceased grabbed the weapons.  In the Martin case, there were only two witnesses to the shooting and only one could testify: Zimmerman. Whether a videotape would have supported either Zimmerman or Martin will remain a matter of intense debate. However, a videotape has the ability to cut through legal arguments to bring clarity as to the question of intent.

Judge Timothy Walmsley will now decide whether the convicted defendants in Georgia will serve life with or without parole. However, under state law, such a parole is only attainable after 30 years in prison. That will likely not be material to Greg McMichaels who is 65. The defendants also face a federal trial in February for federal hate crime charges.

In the end, the  Rittenhouse and Arbery trials show the transcendent strength of our jury systems. Many in the media denounced the Rittenhouse jury as racist for its acquittal verdict. President Joe Biden declared that he was “angry” with the jury decision.  Yet, in both cases, juries of eleven white jurors and one black juror came to unanimous decisions on multiple counts. While we speak often of our divided nation in this age of rage, these juries found unanimity based on the rule of law and the weight of evidence. They did justice despite angry demands and demonstrations raging around their courthouses. They represented precisely what John Adams foresaw when he declared “Representative government and trial by jury are the heart and lungs of liberty.”

121 thoughts on “Georgia Defendants Convicted in the Ahmaud Arbery Case”

  1. (OT)

    Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai publicly accused a government official of sexual assault. As it has done countless times to such critics, communist China promptly “disappeared” her. Then her kidnappers concocted a phony “proof of life.”

    Where are you LeBron James, Apple, Google, et al?

    1. Slavery, diversitism (e.g. sexism), social progress, and cancel culture… they exercise liberal license to indulge woke and drowsy dogma.

  2. Regarding the hate crime trial, it would appear that the defendants are being goaded into highlighting the particular past acts and character of Amaud Arbery in order to defend themselves against charges of racial bias. I can understand the initial political necessity of bringing the hate crime charges, but in light of the complete victory in the murder trial, who is to gain by the February trial?

  3. The defendants engaged in legal self-defense.

    This trial was a despicable sham derived of pervasive racial bias against the defendants.

    Ahmaud Arbery is the one and only cause of and is singularly responsible for Ahmaud Arbery’s death.

    The critical and decisive act of attacking the person who was constitutionally bearing an arm was committed by Ahmaud Arbery.

    Ahmaud Arbery was a repeat convicted criminal and felon, and had been previously, formally diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder.

    The judge egregiously denied the defense the use of past encounters with police as evidence at trial on patently unsound principles.

    All evidence must have been allowed in order for the court to constitute an objective, unbiased trial of fact.

    The defendants had legal grounds to execute a citizens arrest and absolutely had “immediate knowledge” of Ahmaud Arbery’s felony convictions and proclivity for felonious acts.

    The defendants “…may arrest an offender if the offense is committed…within his immediate knowledge” while immediate is defined by Merriam Webster as, “b(1) : near to or related to the present (2) : of or relating to the here and now : current.”

    Judge Timothy Walmsley ruled arbitrarily and erroneously that Georgia’s prior citizen’s arrest law was not applicable.

    Arbery’s criminal record stretching back to 2013 showed he had “used running or jogging as a cover to commit crimes” and that he had a pattern of either fleeing when confronted or aggressively challenging his accusers. In at least two police encounters, Arbery allegedly cursed at and threatened officers. Arbery was on probation for two crimes. He had carried a handgun onto school property in 2013 and fled from police when confronted. Six years later, he tried to shoplift a television. Arbery was known as the “jogger” for dashing into convenience stores, allegedly grabbing food and running out. In June 2018, Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, called 911 after he refused to hand over her car keys. She allegedly warned the operator that her son had a mental condition and could become violent if police were too confrontational. Arbery’s mental health was allegedly spiraling, and he was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder later that year, according to the filing.

    – Rebecca Rosenberg

    Schizoaffective disorder

    A mental health condition including schizophrenia and mood disorder symptoms.

    Schizoaffective disorder is a combination of symptoms of schizophrenia and mood disorder, such as depression or bipolar disorder. Symptoms may occur at the same time or at different times.
    Cycles of severe symptoms are often followed by periods of improvement. Symptoms may include delusions, hallucinations, depressed episodes, and manic periods of high energy.
    People with this disorder generally do best with a combination of medications and counseling.

    “In almost every criminal case against the defendant who has a past, where that defendant has committed other crimes that are similar in nature to the one he’s been tried for, judges liberally allow the jury to be informed about that past. The jury is then instructed that they can consider the past evidence that demonstrates the defendant‘s motive and intent at the time he committed those past crimes when considering whether he committed the crime for which he is currently being tried.’

    – Jason Sheffield

    O.C.G.A. 17-4-60 (2010)
    17-4-60. Grounds for arrest

    A private person may arrest an offender if the offense is committed in his presence or within his immediate knowledge. If the offense is a felony and the offender is escaping or attempting to escape, a private person may arrest him upon reasonable and probable grounds of suspicion.

    immediate adjective

    Definition of immediate

    1a : occurring, acting, or accomplished without loss or interval of time : instant
    b(1) : near to or related to the present
    (2) : of or relating to the here and now : current
    2a : existing without intervening space or substance
    b : being near at hand
    3 : being next in line or relation
    4a : acting or being without the intervention of another object, cause, or agency : direct
    b : present to the mind independently of other states or factors
    c : involving or derived from a single premise
    5 : directly touching or concerning a person or thing

    1. Whether the initial confrontation was sanctioned or not, it is my understanding that the right of self-defense can be regained. One, with withdrawal. Two, I think there is a predicate of do no harm. After withdrawing and doing no harm, Arbery pursued the man and in the course of assaulting with the intent to disarm him, was shot and aborted in the struggle.

    2. The defendants were the aggressors and this are not allowed to use the self-defense argument. Arbery could have claimed self defense easily if the outcome of the fight was different.

      1. The suspect involved in this attempted citizen’s arrest was a known, psychotic, convicted felon, a distinct potential threat to the neighborhood, and clearly the aggressor in this situation, grasping for the firearm as depicted in the video.

        The police had previously detained and attempted to “tase” the known, psychotic, convicted felon, simply for being in a known illegal drug distribution and use area.

        The citizens conducting a legal citizen’s arrest were attacked by the suspect and psychotic convicted felon.

  4. Imagine that a business in which you have poured your blood sweat and tears into is burned to the ground. There are those who will say that the insurance will cover the damage. The problem is that all of your proof of the monies you spent on inventory, office equipment, and all your other supplies was burned by the rioters. When did you buy your copying machine? How much has it depreciated? Going back through all your cancelled checks and credit cards in order to make an insurance claim would be a nightmare and would require your hiring of help to do it when your business no longer has a source of income. Your employees no longer have a source of income to house and feed their families. There is something that we know for sure. FishWings will not be writing about the victims of riots, his compassion being limited and all.

    1. And that’s IF the insurance company will honor a claim for losses due to civil unrest or riots. Most do not.

  5. Mr. Turley,

    I have one quibble with your article, the statement that, “In the Martin case, there were only two witnesses to the shooting and only one could testify: Zimmerman.” However, in the George Zimmerman case, there was a third witness, a resident of the neighborhood, John Good, who observed Trayvon Martin on top of Zimmerman in a “ground and pound” position, rapidly striking Zimmerman. Zimmerman shot Martin to stop the beating.

  6. Here beginneth the chronicle of those memorable circumstances of the year 1620, as recorded by Nathaniel Morton, keeper of the records of Plymouth Colony, based on the account of William Bradford, sometime governor thereof:

    So they left that goodly and pleasant city of Leyden, which had been their resting-place for above eleven years, but they knew that they were pilgrims and strangers here below, and looked not much on these things, but lifted up their eyes to Heaven, their dearest country, where God hath prepared for them a city (Heb. XI, 16), and therein quieted their spirits.

    When they came to Delfs-Haven they found the ship and all things ready, and such of their friends as could not come with them followed after them, and sundry came from Amsterdam to see them shipt, and to take their leaves of them. One night was spent with little sleep with the most, but with friendly entertainment and Christian discourse, and other real expressions of true Christian love.

    The next day they went on board, and their friends with them, where truly doleful was the sight of that sad and mournful parting, to hear what sighs and sobs and prayers did sound amongst them; what tears did gush from every eye, and pithy speeches pierced each other’s heart, that sundry of the Dutch strangers that stood on the Key as spectators could not refrain from tears. But the tide (which stays for no man) calling them away, that were thus loath to depart, their Reverend Pastor, falling down on his knees, and they all with him, with watery cheeks commended them with the most fervent prayers unto the Lord and His blessing; and then with mutual embraces and many tears they took their leaves one of another, which proved to be the last leave to many of them.

    Being now passed the vast ocean, and a sea of troubles before them in expectations, they had now no friends to welcome them, no inns to entertain or refresh them, no houses, or much less towns, to repair unto to seek for succour; and for the season it was winter, and they that know the winters of the country know them to be sharp and violent, subject to cruel and fierce storms, dangerous to travel to known places, much more to search unknown coasts.

    Besides, what could they see but a hideous and desolate wilderness, full of wilde beasts and wilde men? and what multitudes of them there were, they then knew not: for which way soever they turned their eyes (save upward to Heaven) they could have but little solace or content in respect of any outward object; for summer being ended, all things stand in appearance with a weatherbeaten face, and the whole country, full of woods and thickets, represented a wild and savage hew.

    If they looked behind them, there was a mighty ocean which they had passed, and was now as a main bar or gulph to separate them from all the civil parts of the world.

  7. Jonathan: It’s a sad day when a private citizen’s videotape makes the difference in whether white racist vigilantes are held accountable for killing a Black man. Without that tape the 3 defendants in the Arbery case might be walking free today. In fact, for two months the defendants were doing just that because prosecutors refuse to bring charges and connived with police to paint Arbery as a violent criminal. That’s the “justice system” at work in Georgia. It took mass protests, national outrage and the video that forced the state to bring charges. This does not speak well for impartial justice in many parts of the country. Something you don’t even mention in your post.

    The Rittenhouse and Arbery cases share one thing in common–vigilantism. The tendency of some white men to grab their guns and kill a Black man perceived as a threat. Vigilantism has a long history. It was used to enforce the “Black codes”, following the Civil War. During segregation it was used to enforce rules in “sundown towns” when any Black person could be stopped and questioned (and worse) after remaining in town after sunset. During the Civil Rights movement white vigilantes often worked with police to put down Black protests. Lyle Rittenhouse and the three Arbery defendants were the products of vigilantism. In the Rittenhouse case perhaps the Wisconsin legislature needs to revisit the laws that permit an immature underage young man to walk down the streets of Kenosha carrying an AR-15 entering a chaotic situation–making it worse. The state’s self defense laws also need revision to place the burden of proof on the defendant, not the prosecution. In many states, like California, it would be a crime for Rittenhouse to walk the streets of LA carry his assault rife. There is also a duty to retreat. Had Rittenhouse been tried in California the verdict might well have been different. That’s the part you missed.

    1. You gotta love the Left.

      A teenager defends life and property, because cowardly politicians failed their most sacred responsibility — to protect the innocent from criminals. Then they blame the teenager.

      1. You have to admit it is amazing that “Dennis” can type so much with a missing bicep.

        1. It’s cute, isn’t it, that he imagines he’s communicating with “Jonathan.” Like a child with an imaginary friend.

      2. The left refuses to see the forest for the trees. If it does not fit their pravda narrative it must be racist , murderous or right winger etc etc. The fact is Kyle Rhittenhouse was not guilty and within his rights burns them so bad…truth burns them good !. The fact these three guys in VA are guilty…but for some reason they are not guilty enough for these race baiting charlatans because it’s not a big enough spectacle for them to propagandize and make money off tells alot about their collective character .

    2. Not a word from Dennis concerning the carrying of fire arms by the rioters who were burning and looting. Oh well; it’s what we’ve come to expect of the mighty McIntyre. He should seek treatment for his malady known as mono vision.

  8. Democrats are sobbing with Darrell Brooks, having lost a key foot soldier for their cause. Kamala Harris is reportedly raising funds to post bail.

    1. Show me the proof that Harris is raising funds for Brooks. I know of no Democrats sobbing over Brooks. It’s discussing that u would say such a thing. Why are u making this horrible, tragic event political?

  9. It’s nice to see that other law blogs and real conservatives are seeing Turley in the light he has put himself into. Now his only mission seems to be keeping his Trump base happy with what I have called before his “Bill Barr summary” tell the base what they want to hear and leave out those pesky details and facts.

  10. Turn on a Hollywood action movie and it will only be a minute before someone is picking up a gun an shooting people. A lot of people. Powerful guns. Lots of them. Pick up a video game and it is the same. Action movies often depict a lone vigilante chasing the bad guys.

    The disconnect from reality is shocking.

    I do not like guns. I own one. I am trained in its use and have a concealed carry permit. What I learned during training is that a gun is never to be used except when a person’s life is threatened it is not to be used to protect property. It is not to be used when other options are available. Regardless of the outcome in a criminal case, a civil lawsuit will soon follow.

    The decision to use a firearm is sobering and dreadful. It may be necessary in certain circumstances, but it will cause untold pain that lasts far beyond the incident.

    I grew up in an era and a place when teens had rifle racks in their trucks at high school and firearm on full display. My father (a lot of our dad’s were WW2 and Korean War vets) taught us to respect the hell out of firearms.

    Our family has been deeply impacted in three occasions by gun violence. When I say I do not like guns I actually despise them. Yet I feel it necessary to own one.

    Regardless of the outcome of the first criminal trial, the defendant should be thankful gor the verdict, keep his mouth closed and brace himself for the civil suits that will follow. His and many other lives will never be the same. I did not follow the second trial closely but they will also face civil litigation. Many lives have been permanently shattered and the victim is dead.

    This is not Hollywood. In the real world, there are no winners. There are instead many losers.

    The quest to destabilize the police will only throw fuel on the fire while corporate media fans the flames and has a marshmallow roast. When that happens all hell will break loose.

  11. There was a case in Tampa of a business owner running over a criminal.
    He was found not guilty because it is lawful to use deadly force to stop a felony from happening.

  12. Arbery was shot because he ran at the man and tried to wrestle away his gun. If he had not done this then he would definitely still be alive. You can argue that Arbery felt threatened and therefore had to attack, but if the shooter intended to kill Arbery then he would have done it long before Arbery reached the vehicle. Life in prison for this killing is just wrong because I do not see the intent to kill.

    I will say that running around your neighborhood with a shotgun in an attempt to stop and apprehend a criminal suspect in such a manner(pointing your gun and blocking the road) is just wrong. This is reckless endangerment or manslaughter, not murder.

    There is nuance to this case that warrants discussion. It’s not cut and dry one way or the other.

    1. Ivan, I agree with everything you said. I was going to write it myself, but you beat me to it. This will be appealed. Maybe a more-balanced verdict will prevail then.

      In the meantime, I will not riot or loot or rundown dancing grannies because I know the left will pay dearly for its total lack of forbearance.

  13. When I was younger and more idealistic, I really believed in Voltarian principles of free expression. But as I got older, I realized that Machiavelli was right: “Those who try to be good among those who are not so good will soon come to misery.” Believing that people shouldn’t be silenced as they silence you is like believing that people shouldn’t be shot or bombed while others shoot and bomb you. When pressed, even a pacifist will pick up a rifle when pushed to the brink. So I wouldn’t mind seeing a benevolent dictator shut down the vile, hateful nonsense that comes out of MSNBC. The Left needs to know what it is like to be silenced, as they have been using political correctness and muscle power to silence conservatives for decades now. Turnabout is fair play.

    1. You seem like a lo-info person who takes all the goodness in the world for granted. What makes you think your “benevolent dictator” wouldn’t turn on you? You might have an automobile accident involving some friend of the dictator who was drunk driving. You might have said something innocuous that was then “repurposed” to oppo-brand you, because your company is seen as competing with the dictator’s interests. You could be impressed into the dictator’s army to fight a foreign war that benefits him personally, but not our country. That, my friend, is reality under a dictator, benevolent or not so. Don’t you care about the rights you’d lose?

      I challenge you to think twice before espousing dictatorship in our country, and to be thankful our forebearers didn’t welcome that.

      1. pb: Good points. To which I would add — What happens to your country after the “benevolent” dictator is no longer in office?

  14. Off topic. Waukesha attacker sentence when convicted. Death by fire ants. Hang him by his arms with each wrist tied to the width of a cross. Feet barely touching the ground. Naked. Throw honey on him. Throw shovels full of fire ants in dirt on him. Let the ants have their day.

  15. They represented precisely what John Adams foresaw when he declared “Representative government and trial by jury are the heart and lungs of liberty.”

    You are cherry-picking John Adams words.

    John Adams presciently wrote of our country today…..”moderation….iniquity…..rioting in rapine and insolence…country…miserable habitation…human passions unbridled…. “

    I do hope you are teaching your students about the person of John Adams in vivo and not the man you would rather recall selectively. Give them all of the historical facts. Let the students decide for themselves.

    But should the People of America, once become capable of that deep (. . .) simulation towards one another and towards foreign nations, which assumes the Language of Justice and moderation while it is practicing Iniquity and Extravagance; and displays in the most captivating manner the charming Pictures of Candour frankness & sincerity while it is rioting in rapine and Insolence: this Country will be the most miserable Habitation in the World. Because We have no Government armed with Power capable of contending with human Passions unbridled by (. . .) morality and Religion. Avarice, Ambition (and) Revenge or Galantry, would break the strongest Cords of our Constitution as a Whale goes through a Net.

    Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other

    John Adams

    1. Speaking of cherry picking:

      “The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had *interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven*, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely *by the use of reason and the senses*. “. . . Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, *without a pretence of miracle or mystery*, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind.” (Adams letter to Samuel Miller, emphasis added)

      As Adams acknowledges, America was created by individuals who used an Enlightenment, pro-reason epistemology.

      It has always been baffling to me that someone could read a founding document, The Federalist Papers, for example — which has all over it the imprint of reason, evidence, argumentation. Then read a religious document, the Bible, for example — which relies on faith and superstition. Then somehow conclude that those two documents employ the same method of reaching conclusions.

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