As Blavity previously reported, Gregory McMichael and his son Travis McMichael were accused of following Arbery and fatally shooting him while he was out jogging on Feb. 23, 2020. The McMichaels’ neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, also stood on trial after he was accused of trying to block Arbery while he was being chased by the father and son in Brunswick, Georgia.
The defendants, who pursued the young man with their truck after suspecting him of stealing from a construction site, said Travis was acting in self-defense when he fired his gun at Arbery. According to the white men, Arbery was wrestling for the weapon when he was shot.
Defense attorney Jason Sheffield continued to make a case for self-defense during the closing arguments, saying Travis warned Arbery to stop and not come any closer. The attorney added that Travis was concerned about Arbery possibly having a gun, according to CNN.
Sheffield asked the jury to “set aside” feelings when they deliberate.
“This courtroom is sacred. It is our last place for truth. And we ask that you hold it dear and that you accept your duty to not erode the law, as you sit here and think about what the law allows a citizen to do. It is going to take courage. It is going to take courage to set aside what you think and feel, and to focus on the bare facts of this case,” he said, according to CNN.
The attorney said Travis didn’t have to testify but chose to do so because he wanted the jury to “understand” the “totality of the facts.”
“The judge will give you the law that cloaks Travis in a sort of a shield of silence. You don’t have to testify. You are presumed innocent. You have the right to remain silent. You don’t have to get up there and testify,” Sheffield said.
The McMichaels and Bryan each faced one count of malice murder, four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, one count of false imprisonment and one count of criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment, the Associated Press reports. Bryan recorded the clip, which showed part of the fatal incident.
“It’s still emotional for my family because it’s a raw trauma,” Marcus Arbery Sr. told CNN in October. “You know, to watch my son get lynched like that by three white men, ran him down and lynched him like that. It’s really raw.”
Earlier in November, the court selected one Black person and 11 white people as members of the jury. Prosecutors then asked Judge Timothy Walmsley to reappoint eight potential Black jurors. Walmsley said, “This court has found that there appears to be intentional discrimination,” but the judge didn’t take action to change the jury’s racial makeup, as Blavity previously reported. Walmsley said there were valid reasons, beyond race, for why many of the potential Black jurors were dismissed.