Each of the men has been convicted of multiple counts of murder, as well as aggravated assault and forcible confinement, and all three face potential terms of life in prison without the possibility of parole. However, only Travis McMichael was convicted of the nine counts against each of them.
“I never thought that day would come,” Arbery’s mother Wanda Cooper-Jones said after the verdict. “But God is good.”
The Arbery case has gained public attention for several reasons, including the racial implications of several armed white men pursuing a black man, and also because the fatal shooting took place in the political battlefield state of Georgia. . Attention to the case exploded in early May 2020, when video of Bryan’s cell phone attack surfaced online and each of the three men was subsequently arrested – more than two months after Arbery’s death .
President Joe Biden called Arbery’s murder a “devastating reminder of how far we must go in the fight for racial justice in this country.”
“While guilty verdicts reflect that our justice system is doing its job, that alone is not enough. Instead, we must re-commit to building a future of unity and shared strength, where no one fears violence at all. because of the color of his skin, “he said. said in a statement.
The White House declined to comment on the murder trial in the days leading up to the verdict, continuing a practice employed earlier in the month during Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial. The Illinois teenager was cleared of all charges by a jury after claiming he was defending himself when he shot two men and injured another last year during a chaotic nighttime protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Earlier this year, the president posted a tweet marking the anniversary of Aubrey’s death. And as a presidential candidate last year, he called the attack a “grave injustice” and called it a lynching.
In the aftermath of Rittenhouse’s verdict, Biden expressed solidarity with those upset by his acquittal of all charges while still maintaining juries as the foundation of the US criminal justice system.
“The jury system works and we have to respect it,” Biden said on November 19.
Senator Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) Said shortly after Wednesday’s verdict that he “stood for a sense of responsibility, but not real justice”.
“True justice is like a black man who doesn’t have to worry about being hurt – or killed – while jogging, sleeping in bed, while living what should be a very long life,” Warnock, who earlier this year became the first black Georgian elected to the US Senate, wrote on Twitter.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, a Republican, said Arbery “has been the victim of vigilantism that has no place in Georgia.”
The issue of race has been almost inseparable from the rest of the Arbery trial, although prosecutors largely avoided making direct reference to his potential role in the episode.
The jury was disproportionately white, with only one black juror among the 12 selected. Earlier in the trial, one of the defense attorneys tried unsuccessfully to restrict the number of black clergy in the courtroom gallery and on Monday requested that the trial be set aside due to fears that the noisy crowd outside the courthouse could influence the jury.
Wednesday’s verdict does not mark the end of the legal ramifications of Arbery’s murder.
Arbery’s estate has filed a federal civil rights complaint over his assassination and the handling of the investigation by local authorities. Each of the three defendants also face federal hate crime charges slated for trial in February, and a former local prosecutor was indicted in September for using his office to “favor” men linked to the death of Arbery.
The jury deliberated for just over a day before returning their guilty verdicts for the three men, concluding before the Thanksgiving holiday. The trial began on November 5.
Arbery’s father Marcus Arbery was ordered to leave the courtroom by Judge Timothy Walmsley after openly applauding as the first of the cascade of guilty verdicts was read aloud, temporarily suspending the procedure.