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— As the first verdict was read by the judge – Travis McMichael, guilty of the malice murder of Ahmaud Arbery – a cheer from Arbery’s father was heard in the courtroom. In the overflow room where people watched the verdicts being read live, cheers erupted. People embraced and cried as deputies called for order.
As each verdict was read, onlookers in the room next-door tried to contain their excitement, silently raising their fists, nodding and embracing. Some quietly clapped.
In all, 27 verdicts were reached, nine for each defendant. Travis McMichael, who fired the shots, was found guilty on all nine counts, including malice murder. His father, Gregory McMichael, was found not guilty of malice murder, and guilty of felony murder and seven other charges. Their neighbor, William “Roddie Bryan,” who recorded video of the killing, was found guilty of three counts of felony murder and three other charges.
Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, sobbed and repeated, “We finally got justice.”
Verdicts, explained:What are the malice murder, felony murder verdicts in Ahmaud Arbery’s killing?
The mood among Arbery family supporters was exuberant and emotional outside the courthouse, where a crowd awaited family members and prosecutors to speak. They chanted Arbery’s name and cheered from behind barricades.
Inside, Travis McMichael mouthed “love you” to his mother, Leigh McMichael, who was crying.
“I’m floored, floored with a capital ‘F,’” Laura Hogue, one of Gregory McMichael’s lawyers, told Leigh McMichael as she sat in the courtroom gallery, the room emptying around her, her face red with tears.
Ahmaud Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, is hugged by a supporter on Wednesday after the jury convicted the three men charged with her son’s murder in February 2020.Attorney Bob Rubin said Travis McMichael was “stoic” after the verdict was read. “He’s a strong man. He understood the potential consequences of this. Whatever he was feeling he was holding into himself,” Rubin said.
“This is a very difficult day for Travis McMichael and Greg McMichael. These are two men who honestly believed what they were doing was the right thing to do,” said Jason Sheffield, another defense attorney.
“That is a very disappointing, sad verdict,” he said, adding, “But we also recognize that this is a day of celebration for the Arbery family.”
People who had been watching in the overflow room spilled into the hallway, where many cried and embraced the family. Arbery’s aunt, Theawanza Brooks, removed a jacket to reveal a bright orange shirt that read “state penitentiary,” with the defendants’ mug shots on the back as she made her way outside ahead of the rest of the crowd.
The courthouse was surrounded by media and supporters holding “Justice for Ahmaud” signs, bearing the image of Arbery smiling in a baseball cap that prosecutors presented in court, and waving flags.
The crowd chanting Arbery’s name and “no justice no peace” fell silent as Arbery’s parents and Rev. Al Sharpton addressed them, then broke into cheers again as they finished.
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