As reported several times before, Arbery was jogging through Glynn County when he elected to stop and observe an unfinished home in the area. As Arbery seemingly admired the architecture, nearby residents appeared to be under the impression that he may be stealing from or damaging the unfinished home. In response, the McMichaels and Bryan tracked down Arbery, confronted him and killed him.
Arbery’s death didn’t immediately spark protests, but it garnered national attention months later when a video recording of his death was shared with the public. Not only did the video spark protests, but it also led to the arrests of the McMichaels and Bryan.
Prosecution’s Opening Statement
Months after the initial arrest, the trial of George McMichael, Travis McMichael and William Bryan is underway. During the first day of trial, prosecutor Linda Dunikoski asked a rhetorical question.
“Why are we here?” she asked, according to CNN.
“We are here because of assumptions and driveway decisions,” she answered.
The prosecution argues that if the three defendants hadn’t confronted Arbery that he’d still be alive today. To drive her point home, Dunikoski shared several videos of Arbery examining unfinished homes in the area dating back to October 2019. In each video, Arbery reportedly left the home without damaging or stealing anything. Furthermore, ABC News reports that one of the homeowners had seen a video of Arbery in his unfinished home in February 2020, but noted that he had not stolen taken anything.
Closing out her visual display, Dunikoski shared a video of the three defendants confronting Arbery and killing him. The video of Arbery’s death was punctuated by police body camera footage that showed the defendants speaking to an officer.
“At no time on this video do you hear the words burglary or attempted burglary,” Dunikoski said, according to ABC News.
If correct, the video would thwart the defense’s argument that they were attempting a citizen’s arrest because they were under the impression that Arbery was committing a crime. Moreover, Dunikoski played a piece of George McMichael’s call to 911. As reported by CNN, the emergency that the defendant was attempting to report was a “Black man running down the street.”
As all of this was unfolding, Arbery’s parents watched for as long as they could. Arbery’s father, Marcus Arbery Sr., reportedly left as the video of his son’s death appeared on a screen inside of the courthouse.
“I don’t want to see this,” Arbery’s father said, according to pool reporters.
Meanwhile, Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, let out an “emotional cry” as the video was played. However, she did make the decision to stay in the courtroom.
“I decided to remain in so I could get familiar with what happened to Ahmaud — the last minutes of his life,” Cooper-Jones told reporters.
Defense Pushes For A Mistrial
After an emotional video presentation from the prosecution, Judge Timothy Walmsley elected to have the court break for lunch before returning for the defense’s opening statement. Before that break went into full effect, the defense raised an issue with the prosecution’s opening argument. The defense pushed for a mistrial because Dunikoski allegedly violated a pre-trial agreement by mentioning that there was a two-month gap between Arbery’s death and the arrest of the defendants. Walmsley had ruled that the prosecution should refrain from mentioning that detail, but he did not feel it was grounds for a mistrial. Instead, the judge warned the prosecution from referring to it moving forward.
Also, defense attorney Laura Hogue asked the judge to reconsider a ruling that limited closing arguments to roughly 90 minutes instead of three hours. Walmsley also shot down this request, questioning why either side would need to speak for that long of a period.
Defense’s Opening Statement
After a lunch break, the trial resumed with the start of the defense’s opening argument. Instead of opening things with a question, attorney Bob Rubin opened his remarks with a statement.
“This case is about duty and responsibility,” Rubin said, according to CNN.
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