In Trial's Opening Statement, Prosecutor Says Ahmaud Arbery Was ‘Under Attack’

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“All 3  of these defendants did everything they did based connected  assumptions,” a prosecutor, Linda Dunikoski, said during opening   arguments connected  Friday. “Not connected  facts, not connected  grounds  — connected  assumptions.”
Credit...Octavio Jones/Reuters
  • Nov. 5, 2021, 1:23 p.m. ET

The pb authoritative successful the proceedings of the 3 achromatic men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery said successful her opening connection connected Friday that Mr. Arbery was plainly “under attack” by the defendants erstwhile they chased him successful trucks done their vicinity — a pursuit that ended with 1 of the defendants, Travis McMichael, fatally shooting Mr. Arbery with his pump-action shotgun.

The prosecutor, Linda Dunikoski, said that the men had “assumed the worst” astir Mr. Arbery but had nary “immediate knowledge” of him committing a transgression erstwhile they decided to the pursuit him successful their trucks done their neighborhood.

“A precise omniscient idiosyncratic erstwhile said, ‘Don’t presume the worst of different person’s intentions until you really cognize what’s going connected with them,’ ” Ms. Dunikoski told the 12-person jury, of which 11 are achromatic and 1 is Black. But, she said, “all 3 of these defendants did everything they did based connected assumptions. Not connected facts, not connected grounds — connected assumptions. And they made decisions successful their driveways based connected those assumptions that took a young man’s life. And that is wherefore we’re here.”

Ms. Dunikoski walked the jurors done the details of the day of Feb. 23, 2020.

She said that Mr. Arbery, an avid runner, had gone into a location nether operation successful the Satilla Shores subdivision, extracurricular of Brunswick, Ga., and noted that helium had been recorded connected video cameras wrong the location galore times before. But determination was nary grounds that helium ever took anything.

The proprietor of the house, Larry English, had had immoderate belongings stolen retired of his boat, which was sometimes connected the property. But Ms. Dunikoski said that Mr. English ended up suspecting a antithetic antheral and pistillate — who were besides captured connected video — of those thefts.

The 3 defendants had been acrophobic astir vicinity break-ins. On Jan. 1, she noted, Travis McMichael’s handgun was stolen from his truck.

Ms. Dunikoski argued to the assemblage that Gregory McMichael, Travis’s begetter and a chap defendant, had simply seen Mr. Arbery moving down the thoroughfare aft leaving Mr. English’s house. When asked by constabulary aboriginal if Mr. Arbery had breached into the house, Mr. McMichael said, “I don’t know.” He added, “My volition was to halt this feline truthful that helium could beryllium arrested oregon beryllium identified astatine the precise least.”

The prosecution’s assertion that nary of the men had contiguous cognition that a transgression was committed appears to beryllium successful anticipation of the likelihood that the defence volition reason that the men were making a ineligible apprehension nether Georgia’s citizen’s apprehension law, which was mostly repealed by the authorities legislature aft wide outcry implicit Mr. Arbery’s killing. That instrumentality antecedently stated that a backstage idiosyncratic whitethorn apprehension idiosyncratic “if the discourtesy is committed successful his beingness oregon wrong his contiguous knowledge.”

Ms. Dunikoski besides described successful item however the 2 McMichaels and the 3rd defendant, their neighbour William Bryan, chased Mr. Arbery for 5 minutes arsenic helium ran done their neighborhood, trying to evade them — the McMichaels successful 1 pickup motortruck and Mr. Bryan successful another. She said that successful the midst of the chase, Travis McMichael stopped and asked Mr. Arbery, “Where you moving from? What are you doing?” Mr. Arbery ignored him.

At immoderate constituent during the pursuit, she said, Gregory McMichael, who was equipped with a handgun, said to Mr. Arbery, “Stop oregon I’ll stroke your fucking caput off,” language, she said, that indicated an intent to harm Mr. Arbery, not simply speech to him.

Understand the Killing of Ahmaud Arbery

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The shooting. On Feb. 23, 2020, Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was shot and killed aft being chased by 3 achromatic men while jogging adjacent his home on the outskirts of Brunswick, Ga. The slaying of Mr. Arbery was captured successful a graphic video that was wide viewed by the public.

She said that Mr. Bryan tried to deed Mr. Arbery 4 times with his pickup truck, astatine 1 constituent forcing him into a ditch.

And Ms. Dunikoski played the video that Mr. Bryan recorded connected his cellphone, showing the moments erstwhile the 2 trucks had pinned Mr. Arbery in. She said that Gregory McMichael aboriginal claimed that Mr. Arbery had been “trapped similar a rat.”

Ms. Dunikoski said the video showed Travis McMichael pointing the shotgun astatine Mr. Arbery arsenic helium ran toward the McMichaels’ truck. She noted that Travis McMichael had stepped retired of the motortruck successful 1 lane of the two-lane street, by the driver’s broadside door, with motortruck was blocking the 2nd lane. The video shows Mr. Arbery moving to the rider broadside of the motortruck successful effort to evade him. The 2 men look to conscionable caput connected successful beforehand of the truck.

“What did McMichael bash with that shotgun?” Ms. Dunikoski said. “He stepped astir that unfastened doorway and moved toward Mr. Arbery. He’s got a shotgun and he’s moving toward him to intercept him.”

Several shots are fired arsenic the men struggle. Mr. Arbery falls to the crushed aft the last.

Ms. Dunikoski said that successful interviews with police, Travis McMichael said that Mr. Arbery attacked him and that helium was acting successful self-defense. But she besides said that erstwhile constabulary asked him if Mr. Arbery grabbed his shotgun, helium said, “I privation to accidental helium did, but I honestly cannot remember.”

The authoritative asked the assemblage to find the men blameworthy connected each of the counts connected which they were indicted — including malice murder, felony murder, aggravated battle and mendacious imprisonment.

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