Ahmaud Arbery murder trial: the defense is resting

Travis McMichael, his father Gregory McMichael and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan Jr. face malice and murder charges in the death of Arbery, a 25-year-old black man who was sued by the trio on February 23 2020, in the Satilla Shores neighborhood near Brunswick, Georgia. Young McMichael shot and killed Arbery and he was captured on cell phone video by Bryan. All three defendants have pleaded not guilty.

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

On Thursday, on Travis McMichael’s second day on the witness stand, a prosecutor insisted on the differences between his early reports to the police and his subsequent testimony about the prosecution and the murder of Arbery.

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.

McMichael had testified a day earlier that he had acted in self-defense as he and Arbery fought over McMichael’s shotgun.

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.”

LIVE UPDATES: The Ahmaud Arbery Murder Trial

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.

In addition to malicious murder and felony murder, the accused face charges of aggravated assault, forcible confinement and felony attempt to commit a felony. They all pleaded not guilty. If convicted, every man faces life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

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.

Travis McMichael takes a stand and describes the moment he shot Ahmaud Arbery

“Obviously he had the gun.… I obviously missed every detail” when speaking to the police that day under stress, McMichael said Thursday.

On Tuesday, the medical examiner who performed Arbery’s autopsy said Arbery’s first gunshot wounds – to the wrist and chest – could be consistent with Arbery grabbing or pushing back the shotgun .

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

The McMichaels, according to their attorneys, suspected Arbery of burglary in part because they and several neighbors were concerned that people were entering a house under construction – and because of Travis McMichaels’ meeting with a local man on February 11, 2020, nearly two weeks before the shooting.
Defense attorney Bob Rubin said in his opening statements two weeks ago that the person Travis McMichael saw on February 11, 2020, was Arbery – verified by surveillance video – and that the encounter gave to Travis McMichael believed 12 days later that the person now running could be armed.
Reportedly, the murderous chase began with this: A neighbor called the police on the afternoon of February 23 to say that a man later identified as Arbery was alone at the construction site. Arbery fled when the man called the police, the neighbor said.
Gregory McMichael, investigators said, said he started the chase after seeing Arbery quickly led by McMichael’s home, and that he believed Arbery fit the description of someone who had been taped on the construction site before.
Prosecutors drop case in trial of three men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery
Travis McMichael testified on Wednesday that he was sitting at his home on February 23 when his father ran inside in a “frenzied state” and told his son to take his gun, claiming the man of the days over. early had “just run through the house”. and “something has happened.”

“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.

The prosecution said surveillance footage showed Arbery at the construction site on several occasions, including the day he was killed, but always without breaking and taking anything.
However, prosecution witnesses said the McMichaels were not sure at the time of the prosecution that Arbery was at the site that day, or if the man in the videos had ever taken anything from the site. the construction site.
Travis McMichael said he grabbed his shotgun when his father waved to him. As Travis and Gregory McMichael drove and met Arbery on February 23, they “identified that yes, that’s him,” Travis McMichael said Wednesday.

“(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.

Timeline of Ahmaud Arbery's murder and the case against 3 men accused of his murder

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.

Eventually, Travis McMichael said he noticed another truck in the neighborhood. Prosecutors argue that Bryan, the third defendant, got into his own truck and joined the pursuit, although he did not know what was going on, and struck Arbery with his vehicle. Arbery at one point appeared to “grab” the other truck long before the final meet, Travis McMichael testified.

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.

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