x
Breaking News
More () »

Defense rests its case in the trial of 3 men accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick

Travis McMichael, his father Gregory McMichael and William "Roddie" Bryan, who recorded the video, are all charged with murder in Arbery's death.

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — **WARNING: Videos contained in this article may be disturbing to some.

The tenth day of testimony in the trial in the death of Ahmaud Arbery continued Thursday in Brunswick, the day after defendant Travis McMichael took the stand in his own defense.

Arbery was shot and killed on Feb. 23, 2020. Cellphone video leaked to the public shows 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 struggle over McMichael's shotgun before Arbery is shot and collapses.

Travis McMichael, his father Gregory McMichael and William "Roddie" Bryan, who recorded the video, are all charged with murder in Arbery's death.

RECAP:

4:10 p.m.: Charge conference Friday at 10 a.m. 

By definition, this is a meeting between a judge and the parties’ lawyers, after the parties have closed their cases and before the jury is charged, to determine the content of the instructions to the jury and to note any objections the lawyers may have to the instructions proposed by the judge. 

4 p.m.: After two days of testimony for defense, defense rests its case. Court adjourned until Monday morning at 9 a.m. closing arguments will start then, then deliberations.

3:51 p.m.: Gough brings up demonstrations outside courthouse. Says he's still very concerned about things interfering with right to fair trial. He brought up demonstrators earlier today too. Judge told him earlier it was outside of his courtroom and he wasn't doing anything. 

3:20 p.m.: Lawrence says "I felt it matched a story that I knew to be true of this person lunging for the gun, and so this is the story I was told." She says she told Travis McMichael, “You’re lucky you have this on video."

3:10 p.m.: The state cross-examines Lawrence, asking if she had a conversation with Travis McMichael about sharing the video of the shooting to show the "neighborhood's side" of what happened. Lawrence says she was going to post the video of the shooting to social media because she believed McMichael's story of what happened and thought the video matched his story.

3:05 p.m.: Lawrence says her sons didn't feel safe playing outside due to crime in the neighborhood and hearing about a man on camera inside English's home later identified as Arbery. She gets teary-eyed saying she feels "violated" and upset her kids weren't getting to grow up in a safe neighborhood.

2:58 p.m.: The next witness is Sube Lawrence, daughter of Anabelle Beasley. Lawrence also lives in Satilla Shores and is good friends with earlier witness Brooke Perez and her husband Diego, who she says would "look out for us." Brooke Perez would tell Lawrence to get her kids inside when they saw a man on the surveillance camera in English's home, later identified as Arbery.

2:36 p.m.: The next witness for the defense is Anabelle Beasley, who also lives in Satilla Shores. She says she added security cameras due to crime in the neighborhood. Beasley says her grandchildren became too scared to play outside due to crime in Satilla Shores, and she didn't feel comfortable having them play outside.

2:34 p.m.: The defense's next witness is Jack Brinson, another Satilla Shores neighbor. Attorneys ask him about crime in the neighborhood and the neighborhood Facebook page. When asked if he saw people reporting crime on the page, he says yes.

2:33 p.m.: Outside the courthouse, the crowd is listening to the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rev. Al Sharpton. Duval County civil rights leaders present include Hope McMath of Yellow House and Wells Todd of Take Em Down Jax.

2:09 p.m.: Perez says her family was out for pizza that Sunday afternoon when Arbery was shot. They drove back into the neighborhood and saw the scene, she says. Her husband dropped her and her kids off at home and returned to the scene, she says. She says she thought "What the heck is going on?"

2:03 p.m.: Perez says her husband Diego went to the house under construction on the night of Feb. 11, 2020, when Travis McMichael had an encounter with Arbery. "I figured when Diego got in there, he'd scare whoever was in there," Perez says. She says it alarmed her that the same person, later identified as Arbery, kept coming back.

2:01 p.m.: Perez says English would text Diego when someone was on his surveillance camera. She says English would say "the colored boy is back at my house."

1:39 p.m.: Perez is the administrator of the Satilla Shores Facebook page and knows Larry English, owner of the home in the neighborhood under construction, because their children are friends. She would tell him when people were on his property when she would see it on security camera.

1:29 p.m.: The defense calls its fourth witness, Brooke Perez, another Satilla Shores resident. She says tools were stolen from her husband's truck a few years ago. Perez says she and her husband Diego had "a very uneasy feeling" about crime in the area, especially because she has three kids. "It felt like a violation," she says. She says they purchased a home security camera system due to the theft.

1:13 p.m.: Defense attorney Kevin Gough files his fifth motion for a mistrial based on the prosecutor's question asking the defense's witness if the death penalty was worthy of someone stealing. The judge denies the motion, but admonishes the prosecutor, saying it was an "irrelevant, inflammatory" comment and she should have known better. He says he will tell the jury to disregard the question.

12:38 p.m.: A prosecutor asks Cofer if she thinks the death penalty was worthy of someone stealing. Defense attorney Laura Hogue asks the judge to admonish the prosecutor for this question. The prosecutor says she felt it was appropriate to ask.

12:20 p.m.: Hundreds of people gather in front of the Glynn County Courthouse in support of Arbery's family.

11:42 a.m.: The defense calls its next witness, Lindy Cofer, a Satilla Shores resident since 1976. She describes the neighborhood as a "rural, pleasant neighborhood" and says she saw crime in Satilla Shores reported on the neighborhood Facebook page.

11:40 a.m.: After nearly six and a half hours of testimony, Travis McMichael's time on the stand is complete.

11:32 a.m.: The pool reporter notes the Rev. Jesse Jackson clasping Marcus Arbery Sr. and Wanda Cooper-Jones' hands, squeezing them as the first shot is heard in the video of the shooting played in the courtroom.

11:25 a.m.: McMichael testifies he never told Arbery "you're under arrest" because he "didn't have time." The defense's key argument is that defendants were making a citizen's arrest.

11:21 a.m.: McMichael says Arbery was running toward him and he thought he was going to attack. Prosecutor: "A man who spent five minutes running away from you now wants to engage with you with a shotgun and your father who just said 'Stop or I'll blow your f***ing head off?'"

WATCH | Accused killer testifies that Ahmaud Arbery did nothing to threaten him before he pointed shotgun at him, shot him to death

11:19 a.m.: Prosecutors play video of the shooting with audio. Shots are fired as McMichael watches the video on the stand. He does not seem to flinch when the shots are fired.

11:14 a.m.: Gough has caught wind about the support for Black pastors outside the courthouse. It is unclear whether he realizes the size of the crowd. He tells the judge that someone in the foyer is wearing a hoodie that says "I support Black pastors," worried that witnesses will see it. "Black pastors are on the side of conviction," he says. Judge says he can't speak to what's happening outside the courtroom, not of his concern.

11:08 a.m.: The defense wants to strike a juror they say was dozing off in court Wednesday, saying she is nodding off again after the juror moved her closer to the bailiff to keep an eye on her. The state objects, saying they did not notice. The judge says he will keep an eye on her and ask if she's paying attention.

11:05 a.m.: McMichael told prosecutors he "misspoke" when speaking with officers about the shooting because he wasn't thinking straight. The pool reporter overhears Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, say "Oh my God."

11:03 a.m.: Arbery's father, Marcus Arbery Sr., walks into court with his attorney, Ben Crump. When asked what it's like to see religious leaders from across the country here, he thanked all of his supporters. "We love it," he said."

10:19 a.m.: Prosecutors ask about the day of the shooting: "He has not threatened you in any way physically or verbally?" McMichael says no. Prosecutors say Arbery has ignored McMichael several times, showing he doesn't want to talk to him. Prosecutors point out no one has to talk to anyone under the Fifth Amendment.

10:09 a.m.: McMichael says he was nervous when he gave his statement at police headquarters. Prosecutors ask why. McMichael says "I just killed a man ... it was the most dramatic event of my life."

10:01 a.m.: McMichael says he thought Arbery stole something from a home under construction because he saw him on surveillance video at the home a few times.

9:58 a.m.: The state points out a neighborhood Facebook message to a Mr. Soros in January 2020, where McMichael messages a neighbor that he knows who stole his gun from his truck and has their address. In a written police statement in February 2020, McMichael said Arbery could be the suspect.

9:47 a.m.: Travis McMichael is being cross-examined. He says based on seeing Arbery at home under construction a few times and his encounter with him on Feb. 11 outside that home, he thought Arbery had stolen items out of Larry English's boat.

9:36 a.m.: The judge denies a motion by Gough, at least his third motion to prohibit any "further conduct that may intimidate, influence jurors and interfere with a fair trial," calling out the Rev. Al Sharpton and the Rev. Jesse Jackson. Gough wants them out of the courtroom unless they can prove they are Arbery family pastors. The judge says he has already ruled on this "at least twice." 

9:32 a.m.: The judge also has to decide if racial slurs from Travis McMichael's social media can be introduced as evidence. The defense says they did not present character evidence, so they do not want prosecutors so use character evidence in rebuttal.

9:24 a.m.: The defense argues that they do not want prosecutors to ask Travis McMichael whether he used the n-word while standing over Arbery's body. They argue the only witness is Bryan, who is not going to testify, so there is no "good faith reason" to introduce the evidence. Judge Walmsley says he will take it under consideration.

9 a.m.: Court is scheduled to resume.

8:57 a.m.: New barricades have been erected outside the courthouse today.

8:45 a.m.: Pastors from as far away as Seattle are praying with Arbery's family before court. His aunts are wearing shirts that say "I support 'Black pastors'."

8:12 a.m.: Ahmaud's aunt, Thea, is joining the interfaith prayer breakfast.

8 a.m.: A group of rabbis is hosting an interfaith prayer breakfast ahead of the day's court proceedings. The human rights organization T'ruah, including the rabbi of Brunswick's only synagogue, is gathering for a demonstration of solidarity with Brunswick-area clergy.

RELATED: 'It was life or death:' Emotional Travis McMichael talks about shooting Ahmaud Arbery, struggle over gun

WEDNESDAY RECAP:

5 p.m.: Court has ended for the day.

4:33 p.m.: State now cross-examining

4:30 p.m.: Travis McMichael’s defense wants to ensure the state doesn’t ask Travis McMichael about allegedly using the N-word while standing over Ahmaud Aubrey, says the only witness is Roddie Bryan who is not going to testify, therefore no “good faith reason” to introduce.

4:10 p.m.: Travis is crying describing his "shock" after realizing he killed Arbery, said it was "a blur"

4:07 p.m.: Travis starts crying on the stand describing what he says was struggle over his shotgun with Arbery, thought Arbery had his gun, "I was thinking of my son ... it was life or death," Travis said he had to shoot Arbery  

3:58 p.m.: Travis said Arbery was "closing in" on him as Travis raised his shotgun, and he was pretty sure Arbery was going to attack as Arbery ran towards him. Said he wouldn't have time to react if Arbery pulled a gun on him

3:51 p.m.: Travis said he didn't see cops there yet, reached for his phone to call 911, looked down the road and saw Arbery running back towards him. Travis yells "stop right there," said Arbery made eye contact with him and got closer, so Travis grabbed for his shotgun

3:46 p.m.: Travis said Arbery looked like he was trying to get into Roddie Bryan's truck.

3:29 p.m.: Travis testifies he told Arbery "hey the police are on the way" and said Arbery ran as soon as he said that. Travis said concerning to him that Arbery did something and was trying to avoid the police, "well obviously" Travis said

3:24 p.m.: Arbery seemed mad, clenched teeth, furrowed brow, Travis says made him think something was wrong, not what he expected. Said Arbery never said a word to him.

3:22 p.m. Travis says he told Arbery "stop please stop" Sheffield asks if he said "please," Travis said "I'm sure I did," Wanda Cooper-Jones throws head back as in disbelief 

3:21 p.m.: Travis said pulls up next to Arbery, he asks Arbery "hey what're you doing? What's going on?" Travis said he was trying to deescalate and knew "it could go either way," Arbery's mother shaking head

3:20 p.m.: Travis had shotgun, put it between seats in truck, he said. Rode thr brake around neighborhood, he said, recognized Arbery from home under construction, recognized Arbery's haircut

3:10 p.m.: Travis said he was in his house trying to get his son to take a nap day of shooting. Said his dad ran inside home and said the same guy who has been breaking into home under construction just ran by their house, told Travis to grab his gun

3 p.m.: Court resumes.

2:50 p.m.: Court takes recess.

2:40 p.m.: Travis' 911 call played for court. Travis heard breathing very heavily. Sheffield asks him about how he sounds on call: "I was still scared. I was breathing heavy," Travis says

2:39 p.m.: When Arbery reaches into waistband area, Travis says he drove away "it freaked me out ... it startled me ... I was getting the hell out of there." Wanda Cooper-Jones seen shaking her head in court. Travis called 911, told dispatcher Arbery may be armed.

2:38 p.m.: Travis says he shined his car lights on him pointing at the port-a-potties where Arbery was. Travis says he got out of his car to ask Arbery what he was doing, Arbery came over "pulls up his shirt and goes to reach in the waistband area," Travis says thought Arbery was armed.

2:37 p.m.: Feb. 11, 2020, 7:30 p.m.: Travis says went to fill up his car, saw someone run across street near home under construction, saw man later identified as Arbery "he was creeping from the shadows"

2:16 p.m.: Travis McMichael testified Coast Guard taught him “if you pull a gun on someone … usually that causes people to back off.”  

1:58 p.m.: Travis McMichael testifies that his Coast Guard training taught him to use a gun to deescalate a situation. "If you pull a gun on someone . .usually that causes people to back off.

1:43 p.m.: Sheffield: "is it your goal to escalate situations?" Travis: "no absolutely not" said he would give verbal commands first and don't want things to go south  

1:25 p.m.: Travis McMichael discusses his previous experience in the Coast Guard. Is questioned about his background and any connections to law enforcement. He is asked, "what are the types of law enforcement things you did in the Coast Guard?" Defense hoping to play on this.

1:10 p.m.: Travis McMichael takes the stand. He is accused of shooting Ahmaud Arbery with a shotgun. 

12:10 p.m.: Recess for lunch

12:05 p.m.: Attorney Bob Rubin asks the judge to keep an eye on juror number 12 whom he says has been nodding off repeatedly throughout the trial. She’s a white woman.

RELATED: 'I watched her nodding off' | Attorney for accused Ahmaud Arbery killer tells judge juror falling asleep

11:48 a.m.: Gough shows a picture of the front of Bryan's home taken on another day (not day of shooting) and says it looks like something out of "Norman Rockwell painting." Gough paints Bryan as an innocent man working on his porch, listening to music on the day of the shooting, who didn't know what was going on.

11:32 a.m.: Gough gives opening statements for Roddie Bryan. He starts opening statements that he reserved right to do after state rested case. Starts by showing video from Bryan's porch camera day of shooting. 

11:15 a.m.: Judge denies motion.

11:14 a.m.: NEW: Gough files another motion for mistrial saying who is in the courtroom, specifically calling out Rev. Jesse Jackson again, haven't allowed for fair trial. Sheffield says not joining motion, but thinks Jackson should be in overflow room.

11:11 a.m.: Attorneys with the McMichaels said they decline to say if their Greg and Travis will testify right now. Judge swears them in in case they decide to testify. Judge swears in William Roddie Bryan too. Bryan won't say yet if he'll testify either

11 a.m.: Court resumes.

10:50 a.m.: Court takes a short recess

10 a.m.: Dunikoski arguing facts/emotions more than law, does not appear to be addressing Hogue's specific legal challenges to the felony murder counts. Just argues "but for" their actions Arbery would be alive. Very animated, a strong contrast with Hogue's placid style. 

9:28 a.m.: Outside the courthouse, Rabbis from the human rights organization T'ruah, including the rabbi of Brunswick's only synagogue, announce they will gather for a prayer breakfast Thursday, followed by a demonstration of solidarity with Brunswick-area interfaith leaders.

RELATED: Rabbis to join chorus of clergy supporting unity during death of Ahmaud Arbery trial

9:24 a.m.: Gregory McMichael's attorney, Franklin Hogue, asks for directed verdict of acquittal on malice murder charge for Greg and Travis McMichael. Says that's a specific intent to kill and says it doesn't apply.

9:21 a.m.: He says asking a jury to find someone guilty of malice murder (intentional) and also ask them to find someone guilty of felony murder (unintentional) is "inconsistent." Says the judge should eliminate Count 1.

9:19 a.m.: He says a secondary interpretation requires the defendant show "an abandoned and malignant heart" -- Medieval language he says only still exists in the law of Georgia and 3 other states @FCN2go #AhmaudArbery

9:17 a.m.: Day begins with Greg McMichael's attorney Frank Hogue challenging the first count in the indictment, malice murder. He says that's a specific intent to kill i.e. "death was not an unintended consequence." The defense contends charge does not apply.

9 a.m.: Court is scheduled to resume, with Bryan's defense attorney Kevin Gough scheduled to present his opening statement, the timing of which he specifically requested at the start of the trial. Then, the defense will begin to call its witnesses. The judge is expected to ask the defendants if they are going to take the stand.

8 a.m.: A prayer vigil is taking place outside the courtroom, hosted by the Better Together Coalition and Glynn Clergy for Equity.

RELATED: State rests its case on Day 8 of testimony in trial of 3 men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery