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Sharpton: Arbery Verdict Will Go Down in History

Mother says he will now 'rest in peace'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 24, 2021 3:44 PM CST
Mother: Arbery Will Now Rest in Peace
Ahmaud Arbery's father Marcus Arbery, center, is removed from the courtroom after Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley read the jury's verdict in the trial of Greg McMichael, his son Travis McMichael, and neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan, Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021.   (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)

(Newser) – Ahmaud Arbery's parents were among the many people praising the verdict after all three defendants in the case were found guilty of murder Wednesday. The 25-year-old Black man's mother said she did not expect the three white men to face justice after prosecutors last year argued that his shooting was not a crime. There were no arrests in the case until 74 days after the shooting, when leaked video of the incident caused outrage. "To tell you the truth, I never saw this day back in 2020," Wanda Cooper-Jones said, per the New York Times. "I never thought this day would come, but God is good. Thank you—thank you for those who marched, those who prayed." Her son, she said, "will now rest in peace." More:

  • The verdict. Travis McMichael, who shot Arbery after he saw him running through his neighborhood outside Brunswick, Georgia, in February last year, was found guilty of malice murder and felony murder. His father, Greg McMichael, and neighbor William Bryan Jr., who helped chase Arbery down in his truck, were found guilty of felony murder. All three were also convicted on charges including aggravated assault and false imprisonment, the Brunswick News reports. The overwhelmingly white jury rejected defense arguments that the men were trying to carry out a lawful citizen's arrest and that the younger McMichael shot Arbery in self-defense. Prosecutors said the men hunted Arbery down and killed him while he was jogging on a public road.
  • "Careful deliberation." Bryan and the elder McMichael were found not guilty of malice murder. Georgia criminal defense attorney Page Pate tells CNN the verdict shows there was "careful deliberation." In Georgia, malice murder means "you have an intent to kill someone," Pate says. "Felony murder is you don't necessarily want to kill someone but you're committing a felony offense and someone dies as a result of it."

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  • Sentencing. The three men were taken to the Glynn County jail, where they will remain until they are sentenced, the Times reports. No sentencing date has been set. All three defendants could face a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
  • "We conquered that lynch mob." "We conquered that lynch mob," said father Marcus Arbery Sr., who was asked to leave the courtroom after shouting "Woohoo!" when the first guilty verdict was read out. "For real, all lives matter," he said outside the courthouse, per CNN. "Not just Black children. We don't want to see nobody go through this. I wouldn't want to see no daddy watch their kid get lynched and shot down like that."
  • Sharpton speaks out. "Let the word go forth all over the world, that a jury of 11 whites and one Black stood up in the Deep South and said Black Lives Matter," the Rev. Al Sharpton said as he left the courthouse with Arbery's mother, per the Washington Post. "Brunswick, Georgia, will go down in history as the place where criminal justice took a different turn," Sharpton said
  • Biden: Killing is a "devastating reminder." "Ahmaud Arbery’s killing— witnessed by the world on video—is a devastating reminder of how far we have to go in the fight for racial justice in this country," President Biden said in a statement. The verdict, he said, "ensures that those who committed this horrible crime will be punished."

  • Celebrity reaction. Numerous celebrities praised the verdict, including Dan Rather, who called it a "modicum of justice after a horrific act of violence," the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. "Just a reminder that these men were only arrested after people shared the video of them murdering Ahmaud Arbery, AND THEN more people demanded that just be served," tweeted comic W. Kamau Bell. "Once again, ACTIVISM WORKS!"
  • Appeals planned. Lawyers for the McMichaels and Bryan say they plan to appeal. "I can tell you honestly, these men are sorry for what happened to Ahmaud Arbery," said McMicheal attorney Jason Sheffield, per the AP. "They are sorry he’s dead. They are sorry for the tragedy that happened because of the choices they made to go out there and try to stop him." Bryan attorney Kevin Gough, who plans to file new motions after Thanksgiving, said the team is "disappointed with the verdict, but we respect it."
(Read more Ahmaud Arbery stories.)

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