Case of three white men accused of murdering the 25-year-old Black man goes to a predominantly white jury after a racially charged trial.
A jury has begun deliberations in the racially charged trial of three white
men accused of murder in the southern US state of Georgia for shooting dead a Black man Ahmaud Arbery after chasing him in their pickup trucks.
“Start your deliberations with an open mind,” Judge Timothy Walmsley told the predominantly white jury at the conclusion of the month-long trial on Tuesday.
“Each of you must decide this case for yourself.”
The jurors worked through lunch as they deliberated.
Gregory McMichael, 65, a retired police officer; his son Travis, 35; and their neighbour William “Roddie” Bryan, 52, are facing a sentence of potential life in prison for the February 2020 shooting of 25-year-old Arbery.
A graphic video of the shooting of the unarmed Arbery went viral on social media and added fuel to last year’s protests against racial injustice sparked by the murder of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black
man, by a white police officer in Minnesota.
‘This isn’t the Wild West’
The defendants have said they suspected Arbery was a burglar who had been active in their neighbourhood and invoked a since-repealed state law that allows ordinary citizens to make arrests.
But chief prosecutor Linda Dunikoski said they had no justification for attempting to detain Arbery and never told him they were trying to arrest him as he jogged through their Satilla Shores neighbourhood on a Sunday afternoon.
“You can’t make a citizen’s arrest because somebody’s running down the street,” Dunikoski said in her final statement on Tuesday.
“This isn’t the Wild West,” she said. “You can’t just stop someone in the United States of America. People are free here.”
The prosecutor said the McMichaels, who were armed with a shotgun and a handgun, and Bryan, who was unarmed, didn’t see Arbery commit any crime that day but “chose to confront him.”
“He was trying to get away from these strangers who were yelling at him, threatening to kill him,” Dunikoski said. “And then they killed him.”
During her closing arguments, the prosecutor said the McMichaels made the decision to go after Arbery simply “because he was a Black
man running down the street.”
Family waits for ‘guilty verdict’
Speaking to reporters after the jury began deliberations, Wanda Cooper-Jones, Arbery’s mother, said she believed they “will come back with a guilty verdict.”
“We will get justice for Ahmaud,” she said.
There is only one Black juror on the 12-member jury hearing the case, although about 25 percent of the 85,000 residents of Glynn County, where the trial is taking place, are Black.
The jury began deliberations just days after the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse in another closely watched case.
Rittenhouse, 18, shot dead two men and wounded another during protests and riots against police brutality in Wisconsin last year that followed the police shooting of a Black man.
The teen claimed self-defense and was acquitted of all charges on Friday.
Source: TRTWorld and agencies