Ahmaud Arbery murder trial: the defense is resting
Defense lawyers closed their case after the prosecution cross-examined Travis McMichael as well as testimony from several residents of the neighborhood where the shooting took place.
Pleadings will begin Monday morning.
Prosecutor pressured defendant over differences in his accounts
She also asked him about the last moments of Arbery’s life, including asking him why McMichael had already raised his shotgun.
“You don’t let him get away – you point (the) shotgun at him,” prosecutor Linda Dunikowski said of the encounter during cross-examination.
“I don’t let him run towards me, straight towards me,” McMichael replied, speaking of his gun.
On Thursday, Dunikowski challenged McMichael over what she said were inconsistencies in his accounts. This involved not telling police initially that he and his father were trying to make a citizen arrest, although that is what the defense has since argued. She also covered the differences in his accounts on when and where he told Arbery certain things, like stopping off.
McMichael replied that he was “scattered” and “mixed up” in the hours following the shooting because “it is the most traumatic event I have ever experienced in my life.”
McMichael also admitted on several occasions, during Dunikowski’s interrogation, that he had never seen Arbery armed during the chase, that he had never heard Arbery threaten him verbally, and that Arbery had never neither answered nor showed any interest in conversing with McMichael as he attempted to ask him what he was doing.
She also pushed him on what he chose not to do.
“You could have driven behind (Arbery) and not talking to him at all,” and “you could have stayed in your truck” instead of getting out and possibly pulling out a gun, Dunikowski said.
McMichael answered “yes” to both statements.
Prosecutor investigates Travis McMichael when he last met
On Thursday, Dunikowski also took issue with Travis McMichael over why he now claims Arbery grabbed his gun in the final encounter, as he initially told police he didn’t know if that was what had happened.
“Obviously he had the gun.… I obviously missed every detail” when speaking to the police that day under stress, McMichael said Thursday.
When McMichael described the encounter on Wednesday, he said that after chasing Arbery with his father in a van, he parked his vehicle and saw Arbery coming their way. He yelled at Arbery to “stop where you are at” and went to get his shotgun. Arbery turned and ran, before finally coming back, said Travis McMichael.
As Arbery moved closer, Travis McMichael drew his gun at Arbery, McMichael said on Wednesday. Arbery rushed to the right and later, “starts running straight for the truck where my dad is in the back. Young McMichael testified that he walked towards the front of the vehicle and Arbery “turns and is on me, is on me in a flash.”
“He grabs the shotgun and I think I got hit the first time we made contact,” Travis McMichael said Wednesday.
On Wednesday McMichael said that “if he had the shotgun from me then he did, it’s a life or death situation. And I’m going to have to stop him, so I drawn.”
Dunikowski questioned him on Thursday about what she called his “attitudes towards (…) vigilantism”. She asked about a Facebook exchange in January 2019 with somoene, in which this person felt it was necessary to make examples of someone if they were stealing things.
“You (replied) ‘That’s right. I hope you all catch the vermin,’” Dunikowski said.
“That’s right,” McMichael said.
Travis McMichael describes the days and times leading up to the chase
“I assumed it was the same individual I saw (in the unfinished house) on the 11th,” and he had heard previously that items had been stolen from the site, Travis McMichael said.
“(We have decided) let’s try to hold him back so the police can talk to him,” Travis McMichael said. He said his father told him he called the police, and therefore assumed the police were on their way – but it turned out that the father did not have his phone.
The son testified that he tried to ask Arbery while he was still in his truck what was going on, “trying to defuse” the situation. He said Arbery didn’t respond and kept running. He said he tried to speak to Arbery a second time, during which Arbery stopped, said nothing, but restarted after Travis McMichael announced the police were arriving.
It wasn’t until late in the footage, shortly before the shooting, that Travis McMichael realized his father hadn’t called the police. Travis McMichael dialed 911 and handed the phone over to his father, he said.
Arbery did not have a gun when he was killed, authorities said.
CNN’s Travis Caldwell, Christina Maxouris and Chris Boyette contributed to this report.