The latest in the trial in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery

By Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes, Melissa Macaya and Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 6:45 PM ET, Mon November 22, 2021
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3:41 p.m. ET, November 22, 2021

Defense attorney makes a jarring remark about Ahmaud Arbery in closing arguments

From CNN's Mike Hayes

Defense attorney Laura Hogue argued during her closing statement that Ahmaud Arbery was not a "victim" when he was shot and killed on Feb. 23, 2020.

During her closing, the defense attorney for Gregory McMichael argued that Arbery was a "recurring intruder" at a construction site in the neighborhood.

Hogue also commented on Arbery's appearance on the day he was killed.

"Turning Ahmaud Arbery into a victim after the choices that he made, does not reflect the reality of what's brought Ahmaud Arbery to Satilla Shores," she said. The defense attorney then noted Arbery was wearing khaki shorts and criticized his personal hygiene the day he was killed.

CNN's Ryan Young reported that Hogue's jarring description of Arbery "upset the family."

"Of course we also watched in court people reacting to some of the words that she [the defense attorney] was saying. In fact, one thing sort of stood out to a lot of us there. At one moment, Wanda Cooper-Jones, which is Ahmaud Arbery's mother, left court, almost tripping on people, when she got upset over a statement that Laura Hogue, that attorney, made ... It seemed like that upset the family at that point," Young said.

The prosecution has said surveillance videos show Arbery at the site multiple times, including the day he was killed, but he never broke in or took anything. Witnesses also testified that the defendants did not know at the time that Arbery had been at the site that day.

The property's owner, Larry English Jr., testified in September he probably told the McMichaels about incidents on his property, but he never authorized the McMichaels to confront anyone.

2:49 p.m. ET, November 22, 2021

Defense attorney: "Compromise has absolutely no place" in jury deliberations

From CNN's Mike Hayes

Defense attorney Laura Hogue wrapped up her closing argument by telling the jurors they have an "awesome" responsibility.

The attorney for defendant Gregory McMichael said "compromise has absolutely no place in the deliberative process." 

"The judge will instruct you, keep an open mind, talk with each other, consider each other's point of view. But the bottom line, ladies and gentlemen, is that each of you will form this verdict on your own. You are the gatekeepers of this jury process. You are the gatekeepers of the oath that you each took. If some of you feel strongly one way and others of you feel strongly the other way, keep talking. Keep working," Hogue said.

She told the jurors it is "important" to "not to give up any opinions you have, any thoughts and beliefs you have just to get along or just to be unanimous."

"Greg McMichael is not a murderer. He's not guilty," Hogue said at the finish.

Hogue was the second of three defense attorneys to deliver closing statements today.

2:32 p.m. ET, November 22, 2021

Arbery was a "recurring intruder" at construction site in the neighborhood, defense says

From CNN's Mike Hayes

(Pool)
(Pool)

Defense attorney Laura Hogue called shooting victim Ahmaud Arbery a "recurring intruder" who repeatedly trespassed when entering an open construction site.

She said Arbery, "made the decision to repeatedly and unlawfully enter" the site "over and over again."

She suggested that when the defendants tried to detain Arbery on the street he should have stopped and waited for the police.

"And no one about Ahmaud Arbery made the decision not to stop when Travis's truck rolled up beside him, to wait to tell the police what he was doing there."

She said that no one is saying that Arbery "deserved to die for whatever it was he was doing inside of 220 Satilla Drive, because that's not why he died." 

"He died because for whatever inexplicable, illogical reason, instead of staying where he was, whatever overwhelming reason he had to avoid being captured that day and arrested by the police," she said.

More context: The prosecution, meanwhile, has said surveillance videos show Arbery there multiple times, including the day he was killed, but he never broke in or took anything. Witnesses also testified that the McMichaels did not know at the time that Arbery had been at the site that day.

The property's owner, Larry English Jr., testified in September he probably told the McMichaels about incidents on his property, but he never authorized the McMichaels to confront anyone.

CNN's Devon M. Sayers, Jason Hanna and Eliott C. McLaughlin contributed reporting to this post. 

2:21 p.m. ET, November 22, 2021

Defense: There are no "magic words" you have to say to carry out a citizen's arrest

From CNN's Mike Hayes

Defense attorney Laura Hogue said there are no "magic words" you have to say to perform a citizen's arrest.

"There are no magic words that are required. The court will tell you, there is nothing special you have to say to be effectuating a citizen's arrest. There is nothing special you can say while effectuating a citizen's arrest," she said in court.

Hogue said in her closing argument that if a crime "happens within your knowledge or immediate presence, then you can effectuate a citizen's arrest."

What is this about: Whether the defendants had the right to detain Ahmaud Arbery through a citizen's arrest has been a point of contention that has come up multiple times during the closing arguments.

The state argued during its closing that the defendants did not have the right to make a citizen's arrest because they had not observed or had no immediate knowledge of any crime committed by Arbery. The defense has argued that their clients did have the right to make a citizen's arrest. The judge said that he will instruct the jury on the law before they deliberate.

1:53 p.m. ET, November 22, 2021

Defense attorney says her client "pulled no trigger" during shooting of Ahmaud Arbery

From CNN's Mike Hayes

(Pool)
(Pool)

Defense attorney Laura Hogue said there are "only two questions" for the jury to answer to reach a verdict for the charges that the state has brought against Gregory McMichael. 

"Did Greg McMichael have reasonable and probable grounds of suspicion, to believe that Ahmaud Arbery had committed a burglary at 220 Satilla Drive? And did he have reasonable and probable grounds to believe that Ahmaud Arbery was escaping or attempting to escape yet again on February 23rd?"

Hogue said her client "pulled no trigger."

"How could the state seek a conviction for malice murder as Greg stood in the back of the pick-up truck, on the phone with 911, as the fatal shots were fired?" she asked.

Hogue's closing statement is ongoing. She is the second defense attorney to deliver closing remarks at the trial today. Earlier, Jason Sheffield, defense attorney for Travis McMichael, gave his closing remarks.

1:46 p.m. ET, November 22, 2021

Closing arguments have resumed

From CNN's Mike Hayes

(Pool)
(Pool)

The court has resumed and the defense is continuing to make its closing statements.

Laura Hogue, attorney for Gregory McMichael, is now delivering her closing argument.

1:27 p.m. ET, November 22, 2021

Defense attorney asks the jury to "set aside" feelings when deciding the case

From CNN's Mike Hayes

(Stephen B. Morton/Pool/AP)
(Stephen B. Morton/Pool/AP)

Defense attorney Jason Sheffield just wrapped up his closing argument by asking the jury to "set aside" feelings when they deliberate.

"This courtroom is sacred. It is our last place for truth... And we ask that you hold it dear and that you accept your duty to not erode the law, as you sit here and think about what the law allows a citizen to do. It is going to take courage. It is going to take courage to set aside what you think and feel, and to focus on the bare facts of this case." 

"It will take courage," Sheffield added.

The court is now taking a lunch break. The other two defense attorneys will present their closing arguments when the court resumes. 

12:32 p.m. ET, November 22, 2021

Travis McMichael "testified even though he didn't have to," defense attorney says

From CNN's Mike Hayes

Travis McMichael sits with his attorneys before the start of closing arguments at the Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick, Georgia, on Monday.
Travis McMichael sits with his attorneys before the start of closing arguments at the Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick, Georgia, on Monday. (Stephen B. Morton/Pool/AP)

Defense attorney Jason Sheffield said that Travis McMichael "testified even though he didn't have to." 

"The judge will give you the law that cloaks Travis in a sort of a shield of silence. You don't have to testify. You are presumed innocent. You have the right to remain silent...You don't have to get up there and testify," Sheffield said during his closing argument.

He said that McMichael chose to testify because he wanted the jury to "understand" the "totality of the facts."

"He wanted you to understand what happened for him. He told you about the thefts and the burglaries. The totality of the facts, why he believed what he did, that he wanted to follow [Arbery], that he wanted to talk to him, that he wanted to stop him for the police to detain him," he said.

Sheffield added that McMichael took a risk by testifying.

"He's got everything to lose by testifying, we are judgmental people," he said.

The defense's closing argument is ongoing.

12:22 p.m. ET, November 22, 2021

Defense attorney says Travis McMichael feared that Ahmaud Arbery had a gun

From CNN's Mike Hayes

(Pool)
(Pool)

Defense attorney Jason Sheffield said during his closing argument that when Ahmaud Arbery came towards Travis McMichael, he told Arbery to stop and not come any closer.

The defense attorney said that McMichael was concerned that Arbery had a gun.

He said that the defendant had "two options" — "watching" Arbery and waiting "until the police arrive and giving directions" or "stopping him."

Sheffield said that the defendants chose to attempt to detain Arbery to prevent "from getting beaten and possibly killed." 

He said that McMichael raised his gun "to defend himself, to protect himself."

The defense's closing argument is ongoing.