The latest in the trial in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery

By Aditi Sangal, Meg Wagner, Fernando Alfonso III and Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 6:58 p.m. ET, November 18, 2021
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4:15 p.m. ET, November 18, 2021

The defense teams rest their case

From CNN’s Devon M. Sayers and Alta Spells 

The defense teams for Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan Jr. have rested after presenting their case for two days and calling seven witnesses, including Travis McMichael. 

The three White men on trial are accused of chasing down and killing Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man who was out for a jog on Feb. 23, 2020, in the Satilla Shores neighborhood, just outside of Brunswick, Georgia.  

The men were arrested in May 2020, after a video of the shooting shot by Bryan surfaced.  

All three men are charged with malice and felony murder and have pleaded not guilty. They also face charges of aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit a felony. 

The McMichaels claim they were conducting a citizen's arrest and that Travis McMichael was acting in self-defense at the time of Arbery’s death. Bryan maintains he is innocent of any wrongdoing. 

If convicted of the state charges, each man could face life in prison without the possibility of parole.  

Closing arguments will be at 9 a.m. on Monday.

5:31 p.m. ET, November 18, 2021

Ahmaud Arbery's mother says she is "very confident" of a guilty verdict after the defense rests in trial 

From CNN’s Devon M. Sayers and Alta Spells 

Ahmaud Arbery’s mother, speaking with her attorney after the defense rested, said she feels confident that the jury will return a guilty verdict.  

“I want to remind you it was 74 days that we went without an arrest, things happen and now we’re here and I’m very confident that we will get a guilty verdict, very confident,” Wanda Cooper-Jones said while standing just outside the courthouse doors.  

When asked about Gregory McMichael not testifying, she said, “I really wanted to hear something from Gregory being that he was the father and see what he has to say and see can I get something out of parent to parent, mother to father and see where his mindset was as well,” Cooper-Jones said.

She added that it was “very disappointing” that he did not testify.   

Cooper-Jones' attorney, Lee Merritt, said they briefly met with state prosecutors this afternoon and thanked them for their work. 

3:21 p.m. ET, November 18, 2021

Pastors and ministers join Arbery family in prayer on the courthouse steps 

From CNN’s Alta Spells, Devon M. Sayers and Jade Gordon 

Black ministers and pastors from all over the country gathered in Brunswick, Georgia, for a prayer event supporting the family of Ahmaud Arbery Thursday.  

Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, thanked all the pastors who were present before telling the crowd, “When Ahmaud was killed on the 23rd of February the family had some of the darkest times of our lives. We asked questions, we got no answers, we submitted emails with no reply back."

"But in the midst of all that I prayed. I asked the Lord to somehow tell me what happened to Quez (Ahmaud),” Cooper-Jones said. “My heart is just full of joy in the midst of this broken heart."

Offering additional words, Marcus Arbery Sr., Arbery’s father, thanked the ministers. 

“We know Quez was killed wrongly but look at the change he brought….to make this world better for other kids, so other kids can run and don’t get killed or shot at,” Arbery's father said.

As the event got underway, Rev. Al Sharpton told the crowd that he did not come to protest, he came as a minister to address the attention that he’s received from defense attorney Kevin Gough.

Then Sharpton laid out the purpose saying, “our agenda is that the God we serve will give strength to this woman and this man and this family and an agenda that God would give us justice in this courtroom." 

“How you gonna question who sits with them, we’ve never questioned who sits with the defendants' family. We are here today to pray for this family to have strength," the reverend said.

Some context: An official with the unified command in Glynn County, who declined to be identified directly due to the sensitive nature of the events, estimated the crowd gathered at the courthouse to be over 500 people.

The group took up about a quarter of a Brunswick city block in front of the courthouse.

The ministers left the courthouse to gather for a march that is also taking place this afternoon. 

3:06 p.m. ET, November 18, 2021

Judge tells jury to disregard prosecutor's "inflammatory and irrelevant" question

From CNN’s Devon M. Sayers and Alta Spells 

(Pool)
(Pool)

As court resumed after a lunch break, defense attorney Kevin Gough called for a mistrial based on the question asked by state prosecutor Larissa Ollivierre.

During cross-examination Ollivierre had asked witness Lindy Cofer, "Do you believe that someone stealing is deserving of the death penalty?"

Gregory McMichael’s attorney, Laura Hogue, had asked the judge to admonish Ollivierre. She filed the motion after the jury had been excused for lunch. The attorneys for the other two defendants joined in the motion. 

Once court resumed, Judge Timothy Walmsley ruled to admonish the prosecutor calling the question “inflammatory and irrelevant.” 

“The court does find that the question that was presented was inflammatory and irrelevant. And completely unnecessary, particularly given the witness that was on the stand. It has potentially injected into this case issues not appropriate for the jury and which were in fact discussed and brought up pretrial,” the judge said. “Counsel should have either known or should have known that this was a question that should not have been asked," he said.

Walmsley instructed the jury on the admonishment and told the jury to disregard the question when they returned.  

1:34 p.m. ET, November 18, 2021

Defense calls their third witness

From CNN's Devon Sayers and Alta Spells

The defense has called Cindy Clark as their third witness after lunch Thursday.

Clark has been a resident of the Satilla Shores neighborhood since 2004. Satilla Shores is the neighborhood where Ahmaud Arbery was killed.

So far today: On Thursday, the attorneys also finished questioning Travis McMichael. McMichael, one of the three men charged with murder in Arbery's death, testified Wednesday he shot the Black jogger in self-defense, saying Arbery attacked him and grabbed his shotgun.

The defense also called Lindy Cofer, another resident of the Satilla Shores neighborhood.

1:13 p.m. ET, November 18, 2021

Defense calls for admonishment of state prosecutor 

From CNN's Alta D. Spells

(Pool)
(Pool)

Defense attorney Laura Hogue asked the judge in the trial of three men charged with murder in 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery's death to publicly reprimand state prosecutor Larissa Ollivierre for a question she asked during cross-examination.

Ollivierre asked witness Lindy Cofer, "Do you believe that someone stealing is deserving of the death penalty?" Hogue also asked the judge that the jury be instructed to disregard the question.

Hogue filed the motion on behalf of her client Gregory McMichael, saying, "It's inappropriate, it's incendiary. It's prejudicial. It's improper and we ask that she be sanctioned in front of the jury for having done that in such a, in any case, but in such a serious case."

She filed the motion after the jury had been excused for lunch. 

The attorneys for the other two defendants joined in the motion. 

Ollivierre told the court that she believed it was an appropriate question to ask the witness under cross-examination. 

Judge Timothy Walmsley said he would consider the motion. 

11:50 a.m. ET, November 18, 2021

Court is taking a lunch break

State prosecutor Linda Dunikoski finished her cross examination of Travis McMichael this morning after his second day on the stand. 

The court is taking a lunch break and will hear from the defense's second witness when they come back.

12:02 p.m. ET, November 18, 2021

Defense calls second witness to the stand

From CNN's Alta D. Spells

(Pool)
(Pool)

The defense has now called Lindy Cofer, a resident of the Satilla Shores, to the stand.

Satilla shores is the neighborhood where Ahmaud Arbery was killed. 

Moments ago, state prosecutor, Linda Dunikoski, finished her cross examination of Travis McMichael.

McMichael, one of three men charged with murder in 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery's death, testified Wednesday he shot the Black jogger in self-defense, saying Arbery attacked him and grabbed his shotgun.

6:58 p.m. ET, November 18, 2021

Prosecution concludes cross-examination of defendant Travis McMichael

The prosecution concluded their cross-examination of Travis McMichael.

McMichael, one of three men charged with murder in 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery's death, testified Wednesday he shot the Black jogger in self-defense, saying Arbery attacked him and grabbed his shotgun.

McMichael and his father, Gregory McMichael, along with William "Roddie" Bryan, did not face charges in the February 2020 incident until months later, when video surfaced that appeared to show the McMichaels chasing Arbery in their truck as he was jogging.

In early testimony Thursday, prosecutor Linda Dunikoski pressed McMichael over inconsistencies between parts of his description of the chase to police a couple hours after it happened, and his testimony about the pursuit in court.

He said he was "scattered" and "mixed up" after the shooting because "this is the most traumatic event I've ever been through in my life."

McMichael also acknowledged several times, under Dunikoski's questioning, that he never saw Arbery armed during the pursuit.

He was asked a few questions by the defense before being dismissed and leaving the stand.

Correction: A previous version of this post misspelled Linda Dunikoski's last name.