Ahmaud Arbery's Killers Guilty in Hate Crimes Trial

Federal charges followed earlier convictions in state court
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 16, 2022 3:37 PM CST
Updated Feb 22, 2022 9:53 AM CST
Jury Hears Arbery's Killers Used Racial Slurs Regularly
From left, Travis McMichael; his father, Gregory McMichael; and William "Roddie" Bryan Jr.   (Glynn County Detention Center via AP, File)

(Newser) Update: (Updated with new details on the convictions.) The three white men convicted of murder in Ahmaud Arbery’s fatal shooting were found guilty of federal hate crimes Tuesday for violating Arbery’s civil rights and targeting him because he was Black, per the AP. The jury also found father and son Greg and Travis McMichael and neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan guilty of attempted kidnapping, and the McMichaels guilty of the use of a firearm in the commission of a violent crime. The verdict comes just months after all three defendants were convicted of murder in a Georgia state court and sentenced to life in prison. Our story from Feb. 16 follows:

Two of the three white men convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery repeatedly used racial slurs in text messages and social media posts, an FBI witness testified Wednesday in their federal hate crimes trial. FBI intelligence analyst Amy Vaughan led the jury through dozens of conversations that Travis McMichael and William "Roddie" Bryan had with others, identified only by their initials, in the months and years before the 25-year-old Black man's killing. Vaughan said the FBI wasn't able to access Greg McMichael's phone because it was encrypted, the AP reports. Defense attorneys said in their opening statements Monday that racist comments by their clients were offensive but don't prove that they committed hate crimes.

In text and Facebook conversations with friends, Travis McMichael frequently used the N-word to describe Black people. In a Facebook conversation with a friend, he shared a video of a young Black boy dancing on a TV show with a racist song that included the N-word playing over it. He also said that Black people "ruin everything" and repeatedly said he was glad he wasn't a Black person, using a racial slur. In other social media posts, Travis McMichael advocated violence against Black people. In December 2018, he commented on a Facebook video of a Black man playing a prank on a white person: "I'd kill that f----ing n----r."

And in June 2017, he shared a TV news story about a confrontation between two white women and two Black customers upset over cold food at a Georgia restaurant, using a racial slur to comment that he would beat the Black people "to death if they did that to (name redacted by the FBI) or my mother and sister." He added that he would have no more remorse than putting down a rabid animal. Bryan also used the N-word, but his preferred slur was one that refers to a derogatory characterization of a Black person's lips, Vaughan said. In messages sent in the days surrounding Arbery's killing, Bryan was clearly upset that his daughter was dating a Black man. Defense attorneys didn't dispute the racist posts.

(Read more Ahmaud Arbery stories.)

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