(BRUNSWICK, Ga.) — Prosecutors began calling witnesses Tuesday in the federal hate crimes trial of three white men convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery.
First, two residents of the same area in which Arbery was attacked and then killed testified. These men were asked to describe what happened that day. The next question was to an investigator that responded when Arbery had been shot. She explained the process of a crime scene and what she did on that particular day.
On the trial’s first day in the port city of Brunswick on Monday, prosecutors told the jury they have evidence that each of the defendants had a history of making racist comments. The jury must be convinced that Arbery, a Black man, was pursued and shot to death in order to win hate crime convictions.
In their opening statements, defense attorneys called their clients’ use of racist slurs offensive and indefensible. But they 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—not by racial hostility.
After spotting Arbery running through their neighborhood in coastal Georgia on February 23, 2020, Travis McMichael and his father Greg McMichael set up a chase vehicle and used it to chase him. A neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, joined the chase in his own truck and recorded cellphone video of Travis McMichael blasting Arbery with a shotgun. Two months later, the video went online and no arrests were made.
Learn more What Ahmaud Arbery’s Death Has Meant for the Place Where He Lived
McMichaels & Bryan were both found guilty of murder by a Georgia State Court and sentenced for life in prison
All three are now standing trial in a separate case in U.S. District Court, where they are charged with violating Arbery’s civil rights and with targeting him because he was Black. They have not pleaded guilty.
The case was heard Monday by an eight-member jury, including three Blacks and one Hispanic. The judge in the case on Monday ordered the jurors to be sequestered throughout the trial to protect them from “trial publicity, extraneous influences and harassment.”