BRUNSWICK, Ga. – When the first sentence was read by the judge – Travis McMichael, for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery – a cheer from Arbery’s father resounded in the courtroom. In the overflowing room where people watched the verdicts read live, cheers broke out. People hugged and cried as delegates called for order.
As each verdict was read, onlookers in the next room struggled to contain their excitement, quietly raising their fists, nodding and hugging. Some quietly clapped their hands.
In total, 27 convictions were handed down, 9 for each defendant. Travis McMichael, who fired the gun, was found guilty on all nine counts, including malicious murder. His father, Gregory McMichael, was not found guilty of malicious murder, and committed felony murder and seven other counts. Their neighbor, William “Roddie Bryan,” who videoed the murder, was found guilty of three counts of murder and three other counts.
Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, sobbed and repeated, “We’ve finally got justice.”
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The mood among Arbery family supporters was elated and emotional outside the courthouse, where a crowd was waiting for family members and the prosecutor to speak. They chanted Arbery’s name and cheered from behind the barricades.
Inside, Travis McMichael said “love you” to his mother, Leigh McMichael, who was crying.
Laura Hogue, one of Gregory McMichael’s attorneys, told Leigh McMichael as she sat in the courtroom, the room empty around her, her face red with tears.
Attorney Bob Rubin said Travis McMichael was “stoic” after the verdict was read. “He is a strong man. He understands the potential consequences of this. Rubin said.
“This has been a very difficult day for Travis McMichael and Greg McMichael. These are two men who honestly believe that what they are doing is the right thing to do,” said Jason Sheffield, another defense attorney.
“It was a very disappointing verdict, sadly,” he said, adding, “But we also recognize that this is a day of celebration for the Arbery family.”
Those watching in the room spilled out into the hallway, where many cried and hugged their families. Arbery’s aunt, Theawanza Brooks, took off her coat to reveal a bright orange shirt that read “state of penance,” with the defendants shot in the back as she stepped outside in front of the crowd. again.
The courthouse was surrounded by media and supporters holding ‘Justice for Ahmaud’ placards, which featured a smiling Arbery in a baseball cap that prosecutors showed in court and waved flag.
The crowd chanted Arbery’s name and “no justice no peace” fell silent as Arbery’s parents and Father Al Sharpton spoke to them, then burst into cheers again when they finished.
“It was a long battle. It was an uphill battle. But God is good,” Cooper-Jones told the crowd. To tell you the truth, I never saw this day back in 2020. I never thought this day would come. But God is good. “
When prosecutor Linda Dunikoski approached the microphone, the crowd cheered and called her “Aunt Linda.”
“The jury system works in this country and when you present the truth to people and they can see it, they get it right. And that’s what this jury did today to seek justice for Ahmaud Arbery,” she said.
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Marcus Arbery, father of Ahmaud Arbery, thanked supporters for “pulling together” to bring to justice.
“We conquered that lynch crowd. We caught that lynch crowd,” he said.
Viewers said the rulings were a “step in the right direction.”
Nadirah Young, 24, said she rushed to the courthouse after hearing about the verdict at home. She said after watching the trial, she did not expect the jury to find McMichaels and Bryan guilty.
“I was very surprised,” she said. “For now, it’s just feelings. Very emotional”.
Sherine McKenzie, who was also in the crowd, called the guilty verdicts a “mitigation”.
“I think as minorities, we feel we are always sliding through the cracks. And when will that time end? “, said McKenzie. At least in Brunswick, Georgia, that time is today. “
Carolyn Ruff, from Chicago, said she traveled to Brunswick from Kenosha, Wisconsin, where she followed the proceedings in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, who last week was found not guilty of murder and the following other charges. for shooting and killing two men during a racial justice protest last summer.
Standing in front of a table set up by protesters filled with snacks and a portrait of Arbery, Ruff said her “duty” was to be there. When the verdicts were read, Ruff said she couldn’t breathe.
“I’m filled with joy,” she said. “I’m dancing, I’m screaming, I’m doing everything.”
The crowd in front of the court soon began to march towards downtown Brunswick. They stopped at an Arbery mural. Dozens of people marched, chanting “Whose way? Our way,” before heading back to the courthouse.
One speaker reminded the crowd that convicted killers also face federal hate crimes and other charges related to Arbery’s death. That trial will begin in February.
Sentencing dates for McMichaels and Bryan have not yet been announced. They all face life in prison.
Contribution: Grace Hauck, USA TODAY