A jury in the US state of Georgia found three white men charged with the 2020 murder of Ahmaud Arbery guilty on Wednesday in a case that has prompted nationwide attention.
All of the men were charged with murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, attempted false imprisonment, and criminal contempt to commit a felony.
Travis McMichael, the man who fatally shot the 25-year-old Black man in the port city of Brunswick in February 2020, was found guilty by the predominantly white jury of all charges against him, including malice murder, four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, and one count each of false imprisonment and criminal contempt to commit a felony.
His father, Gregory McMichael, was found not guilty of malice murder, but was found guilty of all other charges. Their neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan, Jr., who joined in the pursuit and whose cellphone footage documented the tragedy, was found guilty of felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and criminal contempt to commit a felony.
Georgia Superior Court judge Timothy Walmsley said he would begin the scheduling process for sentencing within the next couple of weeks.
All three men still face federal hate crime charges in a trial expected to take place in early 2022.
The National Bar Association, the US's oldest network of predominantly Black attorneys and judges, hailed the verdict, saying it "provides some indication that all hope is not lost for the American justice system" after Kyle Rittenhouse was found not guilty on charges related to the shootings of three men at a Black Lives Matter protest in Wisconsin.
The verdict, the association said, "hopefully sends a message to racists that you cannot just take the law into your own hands, kill Black people, and get away with it."
"True justice would be Ahmaud spending Thanksgiving with his family, but today’s verdict is the next best consolation,” association President Carlos Moore said in a statement.
Arbery's murder added to a growing chorus of calls for racial justice in the US after the video taken by Bryan, Jr. circulated widely on the internet, prompting widespread outrage. All three men were arrested months after the fatal confrontation after the footage leaked online.
Arbery was first shot in the center of his chest before engaging Travis McMichael, who shot him again in his upper left chest and his wrist, Dial said.
Richard Dial, the lead investigator in Arbery's case, ruled out the possibility that Travis McMichael could have been acting in self-defense during testimony he gave in June, saying he believes it was Arbery who was doing so.
"Mr. Arbery was being pursued, and he ran till he couldn't run anymore," he said. "Mr. Arbery's decision was to just try to get away, and when he felt like he could not escape, he chose to fight."/aa