Travis McMichael, accused of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, in the court of Brunswick, in the US state of Georgia, on November 23, 2021 POOL
After more than a month of trial, the jury withdrew on Tuesday to debate the fate of three white Americans accused of the murder of black jogger Ahmaud Arbery, a drama that had fueled the major anti-racist protests in the summer of 2020 in the United States. United.
Twelve citizens, including only one black man, will be called upon to rule on the guilt of Travis McMichael, 35, his father Gregory, 65, and their neighbor William Bryan, 52, who face nine charges, including murder , assault and false arrest.
On February 23, 2020, they had chased, with weapons and their pick-ups, Ahmaud Arbery, 25, who was jogging in Brunswick, a coastal town in the southern United States. After five minutes on his heels, young McMichael had shot him down.
A video of the drama, made public nearly three months later, scandalized the United States and Ahmaud Arbery had become an icon of the anti-racist movement Black Lives Matter (black lives matter).
Arrested after the broadcast of this video, the three men plead not guilty. They claim to have mistaken the jogger for a burglar operating in the vicinity and invoke a law of the State of Georgia authorizing ordinary citizens to make arrests.
They also invoke self-defense, accusing Ahmaud Arbery of having reacted aggressively. The young man “is not a victim: he died (…) because he chose to fight,” lawyer Laura Hogue, who represents Father McMichael, said in her plea on Monday.
In her final words, prosecutor Linda Dunikoski said denigrating the victim was a “classic” but “insulting” line of defense.
Addressing the jury, whose lack of diversity was strongly criticized, she stressed that it was not a question of “having an opinion or an objective” militant, but “to hold people accountable for their actions. “.
However, according to her, the defendants are guilty because “in the United States, we cannot arrest people, like that, they are free”. “This is not the Far West!”
“You cannot make a citizen arrest just after seeing someone running in the street”, she added, repeating that the defendants had acted on the basis of “simple presumptions”.
“You cannot invoke self-defense when you are the initial aggressor,” she reiterated.
The jurors must render their decision unanimously. If only one of them does not agree, the lawsuit will be declared null and void.
Their verdict arouses some apprehension in the United States, which fear to ignite if the three men are not found guilty.
On Friday, the acquittal of a young white man, Kyle Rittenhouse, who killed two people on the sidelines of anti-racist protests in 2020, has already caused a stir in the country.