A federal jury in Glynn County, Georgia Tuesday found three white men guilty of race-based hate crimes in the 2020 murder of Ahmaud Arbery after chasing him and gunning him down in a Brunswick-area neighborhood.
The hate crimes verdicts against father and son Greg and Travis McMichael and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan caps off a week of testimony where prosecutors argued that the defendants’ history of using racial slurs against Black people in text messages and conversations factored into their decision to pursue the 25-year-old, unarmed Arbery.
Just one day before the two-year anniversary of Arbery’s murder on Feb. 23, 2020, a jury of eight white people, three Black people, and one Hispanic person rendered the guilty verdicts after a few hours of deliberation.
The three defendants were convicted of violating Arbery’s civil rights on counts of attempted kidnapping and interference with rights and using, carrying and brandishing a firearm during the relation of a violent crime.
A sentencing decision is set to be made after the pre-sentencing interview reports are complete. The separate federal penalties will now be imposed on the men who were also convicted of murder in November by a Glynn County jury in state court.
The McMichaels were sentenced to life in the state case while Bryan has a chance of parole.
On Feb. 23, 2020, the McMichaels grabbed their firearms and got into a pickup truck to chase Arbery, who they say they suspected of committing burglaries in their Satilla Shores neighborhood.
Investigators, however, testified that Arbery did not break any laws when he entered a home that was under construction in Satilla Shores, noting that while white people on surveillance video were doing the same thing, the McMichaels were spurred to vigilantism by Arbery’s presence.
The final moments of Arbery’s life came as he tried to fight off Travis McMichael, a shotgun-wielding man who fired three shots, after Arbery tried to run away from the McMichaels and Bryan for five minutes.
Bryan, who authorities say attempted to run Arbery into a ditch multiple times after joining in the pursuit in his black pickup truck, recorded the viral video that spurred widespread outrage and eventually the arrests of the three men.
Stanley Dunlap is a reporter for the Georgia Recorder, which first published this report.