Ahmaud Arbery's killers found guilty on all counts in federal hate crime trial

By Mike Hayes, Aditi Sangal and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 2:42 p.m. ET, February 22, 2022
6 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
11:45 a.m. ET, February 22, 2022

Ahmaud Arbery's killers found guilty on all counts in federal hate crime trial

From CNN's Mike Hayes

Left to right: Travis McMichael, William "Roddie" Bryan and Gregory McMichael
Left to right: Travis McMichael, William "Roddie" Bryan and Gregory McMichael (Getty Images)

Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William "Roddie" Bryan have been found guilty of all counts in the federal trial of the three men charged with violating Ahamud Arbery's civil rights.

All three men were convicted of interference of rights, which is a federal hate crime, and attempted kidnapping. The McMichaels were also found guilty of an additional firearms charge for using and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence. 

Some more context: The men attempted to chase Arbery and attempted to unlawfully confine him using their trucks as he jogged through their neighborhood outside Brunswick, Georgia, in February 2020, the jury has found.  

They could now receive sentences of up to life in prison for the federal convictions.  

The men were previously convicted of murdering Arbery in a separate trial in November. They are currently serving life sentences for those convictions.

10:25 a.m. ET, February 22, 2022

What you need to know about the federal hate crimes trial of Ahmaud Arbery's killers

The three White defendants – Travis McMichael, 36; his father, Gregory McMichael, 66; and their neighbor William "Roddie" Bryan, 52 – were convicted last November of felony murder and other charges for Ahmaud Arbery’s February 2020 killing in the Satilla Shores neighborhood outside Brunswick, Georgia.

Video of the fatal shooting sparked nationwide outrage after it was released in May 2020, weeks before the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis that set off a summer of widespread protests against racial injustice.

After a state trial last November that largely avoided discussions of race, the McMichaels and Bryan were sentenced to life in prison – with Bryan eligible for parole once he serves 30 years – for their conviction on a raft of charges, including felony murder.

In the federal trial in Brunswick, Georgia, the three men were each charged with interference with rights – a hate crime – and attempted kidnapping. The McMichaels also each face a weapons charge.

Federal prosecutors and Arbery’s family have said he was out for a jog when he was killed. Defense attorneys in the state trial contended the McMichaels, suspecting Arbery of trespassing multiple times at an under-construction home, pursued him through neighborhood streets to conduct a citizen’s arrest. Travis McMichael argued he shot Arbery in self-defense as they wrestled over McMichael’s shotgun. Bryan had pursued Arbery with his own vehicle and recorded video of the pursuit and shooting.

The McMichaels initially agreed to plead guilty, but the judge overseeing the case rejected the plea deal because of concerns about the agreed-upon sentence. The three men then decided to plead not guilty.

The defendants are already serving life sentences in prison for the murder convictions, although they have said they plan to appeal the verdicts. Convictions in this trial could bring steep fines and more life sentences.

10:15 a.m. ET, February 22, 2022

Ahmaud Arbery's killers were already sentenced to life in prison for murder in a state criminal trial

A jury has reached a verdict in the federal hate crime trial of Travis McMichael, 35, his father, Gregory McMichael, 66, and neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan. It will soon be read in court.

But the three White men who chased and murdered 25-year-old Black jogger Ahmaud Arbery in south Georgia were sentenced to life in prison on Friday, Jan. 7 with two having no chance of parole.

The McMichaels and Bryan were convicted in November on a raft of charges, including felony murder, for Arbery’s death.

Judge Timothy Walmsley sentenced the McMichaels to life in prison without the possibility of parole, while Bryan was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole. The 52-year-old will be eligible for parole under Georgia law only after he has served 30 years in prison because he was convicted of serious violent felonies.

Read more about the state criminal trial here.

10:09 a.m. ET, February 22, 2022

Catch up: Here's what the prosecution said during closing arguments  

From CNN’s Pamela Kirkland 

While we wait for a verdict to be read in court in the federal hate crimes trial of Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael, and William “Roddie” Bryan, here's a recap of what happened when prosecutors presented closing arguments on Monday.

Prosecutor Christopher J. Perras began his closing by going through some of the evidence presented during trial and walking the jury through each charge against the defendants.  

Perras argued that the defendants’ claiming Ahmaud Arbery was trespassing doesn’t hold because there had been other instances of trespassing in the neighborhood committed by White suspects that they were not concerned about.  

“This wasn’t about trespassing. It wasn’t about neighborhood crime. It was about race. Racial assumptions, racial resentment, and racial anger,” Perras said. “All three defendants saw a young black man in their neighborhood and they thought the worst of him.”  

Perras did not show the video of the pursuit of Arbery on February 23, 2020. He did bring up the testimony of Matt Albenze. Albenze, a resident of Satilla Shores testified that he saw Arbery in the house of Larry English the day of the shooting and called the non-emergency police line. In closing, Perras said Albenze had a clear view of Arbery and described his running as “long, looping strides” and “like he was running in slow motion.”  

Perras said Greg McMichael only knew he saw a Black man running down the street and played a portion of audio from an interview he had done with investigators saying McMichael didn’t know if Arbery had stolen anything.  

Perras claimed the defendants made false statements to the police by saying Arbery had been caught breaking into houses during interviews with investigators. Perras said that the defendants knew what they had done was wrong and did what they could to try to get away with the murder. 

Perras also went through some of the evidence previously presented by the prosecution that he said shows the defendants' views on race including the Facebook posts made by Greg McMichael, texts and posts by Travis McMichael, and Roddie Bryan’s use of the word “bootlip” in messages to friends.  

"The evidence establishes what was driving the defendant was pent up racial anger," the prosecutor said.

10:02 a.m. ET, February 22, 2022

After federal hate crimes trial, Ahmaud Arbery's father calls for "100% justice"

From CNN’s Pamela Kirkland

Marcus Arbery, Sr., father of Ahmaud Arbery spoke after Judge Lisa G. Wood handed the case over to the jury for deliberation on Monday afternoon. Arbery Sr. said he wants justice.

“All the evidence’s been put out, the world see what happened and the world see why Ahmaud died. Because (of) his skin color,” said Arbery, Sr. “All I can say is that we just want justice, 100% justice. Justice for Ahmaud.”

Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, didn’t speak after exiting the courthouse, but she was accompanied by civil rights attorney Mark Maguire. Maguire said they’re happy the jury now has the opportunity to “do the right thing.”

“I think the prosecution gave a very impassioned rebuttal where they really got to the heart of this case, which is the racial animus. We're glad that all of that was brought to light,” Maguire said.

Cooper-Jones spoke earlier on Monday about closing arguments. She was asked about a moment when she was emotional inside the courtroom during A.J. Balbo’s closing arguments. She said the day had been “very emotional.”

"This has been very draining and I’m thankful that this is almost over,” Cooper-Jones said.  

9:57 a.m. ET, February 22, 2022

Jury has reached a verdict in the federal hate crimes trial of the McMichaels and Bryan

After deliberating for over three hours the jury has reached a verdict in the the federal hate crimes trial of the McMichaels and Bryan announced, Judge Lisa G. Wood at 9:54 a.m. ET this morning. 

Court will reconvene at 10:30 a.m. ET for the verdict to be read.