Ahmaud Arbery killing: Prosecutors build case for hate crimes

Prosecution witnesses will retake the stand Wednesday in the federal hate crimes trial of three white men convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery.

On the first day of testimony Tuesday, the jury heard from neighbors of the defendants who described how the fatal shooting in February 2020 shocked them. They also watched graphic cellphone video and saw crime scene photos of Arbery’s bloody body before hearing excerpts of interviews the defendants gave to police.


Father and son Greg and Travis McMichael armed themselves and used a pickup truck to chase Arbery as he ran through their coastal Georgia neighborhood on Feb. 23, 2020. A neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan, joined the pursuit in his own truck and recorded cellphone video of Travis McMichael blasting Arbery with a shotgun.

No arrests were made until the video leaked online two months later.

Both McMichaels and Bryan were convicted of murder last fall in a Georgia state court and sentenced to life in prison.

All three pleaded not guilty to federal hate crime charges accusing them of violating Arbery’s civil rights and targeting him because he was Black.

A jury of eight white members, three Black people, and one Hispanic person was sworn in Monday to hear the case.

Prosecutors said in opening statements that evidence will show each defendant had a history of making racist comments. Defense attorneys said there’s no excuse for their clients’ use of slurs, but insisted that their deadly pursuit of Arbery was motivated by an earnest, though erroneous, suspicion that the 25-year-old Black man had committed crimes.