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Arbery Jury Declares All 3 Defendants Guilty Of Murder In Racially Charged Case

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Update (1445ET): President Biden has finally released a statement about Wednesday’s verdicts, which will guarantee that all three men involved with the killing of Amaud Arbery will spend the rest of their lives in prison.

In a statement that effectively emphasizes the fact that the Arbery incident is now in the past, along with the rest of America’s racist past, Biden tried to insist in a statement that the latest racially charged verdict effectively counteracted the Rittenhouse case by condemning three men in the killing of one black man.

Joe Biden statement reacting to Ahmaud Arbery verdict: “While the guilty verdicts reflect our justice system doing its job, that alone is not enough.” pic.twitter.com/T1Jg86WWfz

— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) November 24, 2021

Still, we can’t help but notice one thing…

http://www.zerohedge.com/

* * *

Update (1345ET): In a high-profile verdict that will likely see liberals across the country celebrate, Travis McMichael, his father, Greg McMichael, and William “Roddie” Bryan have been convicted of murder in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery.

Only the younger McMichael was found guilty of “malice murder”, the highest charge since he actually pulled the trigger, while the other two were both convicted of felony murder.

And the celebration from liberals on Twitter is already beginning to pour in…

Travis McMichael has just been found guilty of murder in the Ahmaud Arbery case. The justice system finally did its job!!!

— Sabrina (@spiritualSab) November 24, 2021

with Letitia James, NY’s AG, was quick to declare that “justice was served” in a tweet.

Today, justice was served.

I pray that the Arbery family can find some semblance of peace and that we continue to march forward towards justice for all.

— NY AG James (@NewYorkStateAG) November 24, 2021

…as were news headlines.

  • TRAVIS MCMICHAEL CONVICTED OF ALL COUNTS IN ARBERY KILLING
  • GREG MCMICHAEL CONVICTED OF FELONY MURDER IN ARBERY KILLING
  • ARBERY’S KILLERS FOUND GUILTY OF MURDER BY GEORGIA JURY

All three men were charged with malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit a felony. The verdict comes just days after the Rittenhouse verdict, which had set critics of the crimininal justice system slamming it, after the teenager was spared charges by a local jury (likely due to specific details of Rittenhouses’s case than anything).

Arbery was shot and killed on Feb. 23, 2020 and cellphone video leaked to the public show two armed white men in a truck approaching the 25-year-old Black man as he runs down the road. One of the men, later identified as Travis McMichael, and Arbery can be seen struggling over McMichael’s shotgun before Arbery is shot and collapses.

In the nearly 2 years since, the case has evolved into one of a handful of major criminal cases typically involving white men or white police officers have become symbols for American criminal justice “accountability”. Many have noticed that the killing of Arbery yielded three life sentences, the minimum sentence for all three due to the “felony murder” convictions, aka three lives ruined, for the death of one man (and with one defendant who simply helped two friends chase Arbery, while filming the incident.

Here’s a breakdown of the verdict courtesy of KVUE:

Travis McMichael

* Count 1: Found guilty of malice murder

* Count 2: Found guilty of felony murder

* Count 3: Found guilty of felony murder

* Count 4: Found guilty of felony murder

* Count 5: Found guilty of felony murder

* Count 6: Found guilty of aggravated assault

* Count 8: Found guilty of false imprisonment

* Count 9: Found guilty criminal attempt to commit a felony

Gregory McMichael  

* Count 1: Found not guilty of malice murder

* Count 2: Found guilty of felony murder

* Count 3: Found guilty of felony murder

* Count 4: Found guilty of felony murder

* Count 5: Found guilty of felony murder

* Count 6: Found guilty of aggravated assault

* Cpount 8: Found guilty of false imprisonment

* Count 9: Found guilty criminal attempt to commit a felony

William “Roddie” Bryan

* Count 1: Found not guilty of malice murder

* Count 2: Found not guilty of felony murder

* Count 3: Found guilty of felony murder

* Count 4: Found guilty of felony murder

* Count 5: Found guity of felony murder

* Count 6: Found not guilty of aggravated assault

* Cpount 8: Found not guilty of false imprisonment

* Count 9: Found guilty of criminal attempt to commit a felony

* *  *

According to Jonathan Turley, the decision has already led lawmakers to abandon what critics have described as “archaic”http://www.zerohedge.com/”citizens arrest” laws. But the decision by the jury should quiet concerns raised in the state where racial tensions have long been used by the left (which itself has been supercharged by the country’s obsession with racially charged cases, ideally involving police…)

* * *

In Georgia, where the trial over the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, is ongoing, Judge Timothy Walmsley delivered a haymaker to the defense on the very eve of closing statements, Johnathan Turley reports.

The court ruled that Georgia’s prior citizen’s arrest law is only applicable if a person sees a felony committed and acts without delay.

The ruling could be “outcome determinative” in the case by stripping away the core defense that these men were chasing a person suspected of a series of crimes over the last year.

Travis McMichael, his father, Greg McMichael, and William “Roddie” Bryan are likely to make this ruling the heart of any appeal if they are convicted.

http://www.zerohedge.com/

The judge ruled Friday afternoon that the prior citizen’s arrest law requires that the arrest would have to occur right after any felony crime was committed. Bob Rubin, attorney for Travis McMichael, objected that “if you are going to instruct the jury as you say, you are directing a verdict for the state.”

Judge Walmsley simply responded “I understand the significance of this charge.”

The new law in Georgia removes the right of bystanders or witnesses generally to detain people. Deadly force is not authorized to detain someone unless it is used in the act of self-protection, protecting a home, or preventing a forcible felony. The new law does allow business employees to detain people suspected of theft, including restaurant employees who detain people who try to leave without paying for their meals. Licensed security guards and private detectives are also allowed to detain people.

Georgia, however, still retains its “stand your ground” law, which does not require retreat before someone defends themselves.

Here is the prior law:

O.C.G.A. 17-4-60 (2010)

17-4-60. Grounds for arrest

A private person may arrest an offender if the offense is committed in his presence or within his immediate knowledge. If the offense is a felony and the offender is escaping or attempting to escape, a private person may arrest him upon reasonable and probable grounds of suspicion.

Walmsley’s interpretation is that even if the offense is committed in a person’s presence or within his immediate knowledge, they must act contemporaneously with that observation.  The active language of the second line would seem to support that meaning of an immediate response to the observed crime.

The defense could appeal this ruling and will likely do so with any conviction. One can read the first line to mean that the qualification elements refer to personal observation or knowledge. The second line could then mean that the person, upon confrontation or identification, is attempting to escape.  Moreover, if it is not “committed in his presence,” it is a bit unclear what “within his immediate knowledge” means. It clearly cannot mean the same thing as “committed in his presence.” Thus, it suggests that someone has been informed of the status of the suspect as an offender. Of course, that could still mean, as Judge Walmsley suggests, that the knowledge was “immediate” to the crime like assisting an actual witness to the crime.

The history of this provision is highly controversial. Indeed, the problem is that the court must rely on past courts interpreting a law with a horrific legacy not just during the Civil War but later during the Civil Rights movement.

The law was created in 1863 and was designed to allow whites to capture fleeing slaves.  The defense could argue that such a purpose contradicts Walmsley’s immediacy element since fleeing slaves could be captured days or weeks after escape. However, the appellate court could rule that the escape was, at that time, considered a crime in progress and thus remained an immediate or ongoing crime.  The appellate court will have to weigh past cases on how the law was interpreted.

Whatever happens on appeal, the ruling cut the legs away from the defense. This is a common risk in criminal cases where you build a defense based on an interpretation that the court later rejects on the eve of closing arguments. In my view, courts should avoid this problem by ruling on such threshold legal issues before the trial.

As I have noted throughout the trial, both the prosecution and defense counsel were strong in the case. The defense counsel did an effective job in having McMichael go through his training in the Coast Guard. At points he sounded like an expert witness on law enforcement and the use of force. The prosecution did an excellent job in showing that there was no evidence that Arbery had actually stolen anything and how McMichael continued to pursue him as Arbery tried to avoid the trucks.

Defense counsel took a considerable risk in putting Travis McMichael on the stand. As a defense attorney, I see the justification for the risk. Indeed, this ruling increases the need for such a Hail Mary play.

The thrust of such testimony is not acquittal, which always seemed unlikely. The videotape in the case is too chilling to expect an acquittal. The scene of these men chasing Arbery in their trucks was incredibly upsetting for many of us who watched the videotape. It was equally unnerving to see a law designed to chase down slaves used as a defense. 

The testimony of McMichael was more likely part of a strategy for a hung jury — trying to create just enough of a connection with the defendant or reasonable doubt to sway a couple of jurors. Hearing from the defendant can create that type of connection.  While McMichael made admissions like the fact that Arbery did not threaten him before they struggled for the gun, that fact was already obvious from the videotape and the testimony of witnesses. The defense was trying to rebut the image of the videotape showing McMichael shooting Arbery and then walking away. That is not likely to sway an entire jury as opposed to a couple members. However, you need only one holdout for a hung jury.

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