All 3 men guilty of murder in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery

By Mike Hayes, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Meg Wagner, Melissa Mahtani and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 10:30 PM ET, Wed November 24, 2021
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3:10 p.m. ET, November 24, 2021

All 3 men found guilty of murdering Ahmaud Arbery face a possible life sentence

From CNN's Mike Hayes

Left to right: Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William "Roddie" Bryan
Left to right: Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William "Roddie" Bryan (Pool)

All three men who were found guilty in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery face the possibility of life in prison when they are sentenced.

Travis McMichael, who shot and killed Arbery, was convicted on all nine counts. Five of the counts — malice murder and four counts of felony murder — carry a possible life sentence.

His father, Gregory McMichael, was found guilty of all but the first count — malice murder. He faces possible life in prison for the four counts of felony murder that he was convicted on.

The third defendant, William "Roddie" Bryan Jr., was convicted on six of the nine charges. He was found not guilty of malice murder, not guilty on one of the felony murder counts and not guilty of aggravated assault with a firearm. But Bryan could still get sentenced to life in prison since he was convicted on three of the felony murders counts.

The judge did not schedule sentencing today but he said he plans to set a date in the coming weeks.

Here's a breakdown of each of the counts that defendants were charged with in the case, along with the maximum penalties:

Count 1: Malice murder

  • Maximum penalty: Life without the possibility of parole

Count 2: Felony murder (Felony offense: Aggravated assault with a firearm)

Count 3: Felony murder (Felony offense: Aggravated assault with pickup trucks)

Count 4: Felony murder (Felony offense: False imprisonment)

Count 5: Felony Murder (Felony offense: Criminal attempt to commit a felony)

  • Maximum penalty for any of the four charges: Life without the possibility of parole

Count 6: Aggravated assault (with firearms)

Count 7: Aggravated assault (with pickup trucks)

  • Maximum penalty: 20 years

Count 8: False imprisonment

  • Maximum penalty: 10 years

Count 9: Criminal attempt to commit a felony

  • Maximum penalty: Five years

3:32 p.m. ET, November 24, 2021

Biden: Guilty verdicts in Arbery's killing show justice system is working, but "that alone is not enough"

President Biden reacted to the guilty verdicts in the trial of three men convicted of killing Ahmaud Arbery, saying that it "ensures that those who committed this horrible crime will be punished."

"While the guilty verdict reflects our justice system doing its job, that alone is not enough," Biden said in a statement.

"Instead, we must recommit ourselves to building a future of unity and shared strength, where no one fears violence because of the color of their skin," the President said.

Biden said Arbery "should be here today" celebrating the holidays with his family, pledging that his administration will continue to work for equal justice.

3:04 p.m. ET, November 24, 2021

"I'm floored," says defense attorney following murder verdict, according to pool reporter

From CNN's Devon M. Sayers and Alta Spells

Defense attorney Laura Hogue looks on as the prosecutors make their final rebuttal on Tuesday.
Defense attorney Laura Hogue looks on as the prosecutors make their final rebuttal on Tuesday. (Octavio Jones/Pool/AP)

After all three men on trial in the death of Ahmaud Arbery were convicted of murder, defense attorney Laura Hogue said, "I’m floored, floored with a capital ‘F,'" as she spoke to her client Gregory McMicheal's wife, Leigh, according to a pool reporter who was in the room. 

The comments were made as the courtroom was emptying following the reading of the verdict.

Leigh McMichael's "face was red with tears," the pool reporter observed, as she spoke to her husband's attorney.

Hogue said she was "very disappointed." 

Hogue's co-counsel, Frank Hogue, said they planned to appeal the conviction, the pool reporter said. 

Attorneys for Travis McMichael, Leigh's son, declined to comment. 

2:54 p.m. ET, November 24, 2021

How Ahmaud Arbery's father reacted to news of the guilty verdict: "Today is a good day"

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

(CNN)
(CNN)

Marcus Arbery Sr., the father of Ahmaud Arbery, celebrated the guilty verdicts outside the courthouse, saying "we conquered that lynch mob."

Arbery said he saw the guilty verdicts as a victory for his son — and also for justice everywhere.

"For real, all lives matter," he said. "Not just Black children. We don't want to see nobody go through this. I wouldn't want to see no daddy watch their kid get lynched and shot down like that."

"It's all our problem," he continued. "So hey, let's keep fighting. Let's keep doing and making this a better place for all human beings."

Earlier in the day Judge Timothy Walmsley asked Arbery to leave the courtroom after he reacted to the guilty verdict of Travis McMichael – the man who shot his son.

Arbery exclaimed, "Woohoo!" after the first guilty verdict was read.

“I ask that whoever just made an outburst be removed from the court, please,” said Walmsley.

Concluding his remarks outside the courthouse today, Arbery appealed to love, saying all humans should be treated the same.

"Love everybody," he concluded. "All human beings need to be  treated equally. We're going to conquer this lynching. Today is a good day."

Watch more:

2:50 p.m. ET, November 24, 2021

District attorney's office praises "courage" of the jury

From CNN's Elise Hammond

(CNN)
(CNN)

Latonia Hines, the executive assistant district attorney in Cobb County, said Ahmaud Arbery's killing signaled a change in the community, Georgia and the nation as a whole.

Speaking for the district attorney, who had to leave due to a family emergency, Hines pointed to changes that have happened since the start of this case, including changes to Georgia's citizen arrest law.

"We want you to know that from the moment this case came to our office, it was our foremost goal to ensure that we got justice for Ahmaud Arbery's family, and in particular, we are so very proud and thankful for the confidence that the family has given to us," she said at a news conference on the courthouse steps.

Hines also said she admired the "steadfastness and the strength" of Arbery's parents throughout the trial and the "courage" of the jury to convict all three men charged in his killing.

"It has been a long road and we are so happy that we're able to be here at this end of this road," Hine said.

Adding, "We want to thank this community for the support that it has given, to the family and to us and the community at large."

2:48 p.m. ET, November 24, 2021

Lead prosecutor: "The verdict today was based on the facts"

(CNN)
(CNN)

Linda Dunikoski, the lead prosecutor in the Ahmaud Arbery murder trial, said that the prosecution's argument was a "team effort."

"We had so many people on the team that helped bring justice for Ahmaud and his family, and we really, really appreciate the support that we had and the faith from Mr. Arbery [Ahmaud Arbery's father] and from Ms. Wanda Cooper-Jones [Arbery's mother] who have been with us, and put their faith in us and trusted us," she said outside the Glynn County, Georgia, courthouse.

"The verdict today was based on the facts, based on the evidence, and that was our goal — was to bring that to that jury so they could do the right thing. Because the jury system works in this country. And when you present the truth to people and they can see it, they will do the right thing. And that's what this jury did today, in getting justice for Ahmaud Arbery," she said.
5:44 p.m. ET, November 24, 2021

Rev. Al Sharpton praises "White and Black activists" for their support during the trial

(CNN)
(CNN)

Rev. Al Sharpton praised "White and Black activists" alike for their support during the trial of three men found guilty of murdering Ahmaud Arbery last year.

"All of us, this is a day White and Black activists showed we could unite and beat the lynch mob that killed Ahmaud," Sharpton said in front of the courthouse Wednesday afternoon. "And though I never say this often, I must say, we want to thank the prosecutors. They stood and fought for this family."

Sharpton added: "Tomorrow, in all our joy today, there will be an empty chair at Wanda's table. Ahmaud will not be at Thanksgiving tomorrow. But she can look at that chair and say to Ahmaud, 'I fought a good fight and I got you some justice.' We can't fill that chair for you, Wanda, but we can say that you are a mother above all mothers. You fought for your son."

Religious leaders during the trial: Defense attorney Kevin Gough attempted to have Rev. Jesse Jackson removed from the court on Nov. 15 as the civil rights leader sat with Arbery's family.

Gough insisted that prominent Black pastors such as Jackson and Sharpton, who was also at the trial, could influence the jury. The week before, Gough asked the judge to ban Black pastors from court and later apologized for it.

Gough objected to Jackson's presence in the public gallery on Nov. 15 inside the courtroom.

"How many pastors does that Arbery family have? We had the Rev. Al Sharpton here earlier last week... I don't know who Mr. Jackson, Rev. Jackson is pastoring here," Gough said.

2:56 p.m. ET, November 24, 2021

Attorney Ben Crump praises Arbery's parents for enduring the trial: "We should applaud them"

From CNN's Leinz Vales

(CNN)
(CNN)

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump said the guilty verdict of all three defendants in the death of Arbery is "not a celebration, it is a reflection to acknowledge that the spirit of Ahmaud defeated the lynch mob."

"We did this together. We said 'America, we will make us better than what we saw on that video,'" he said.

Crump, who represents Marcus Arbery Sr., praised both Arbery's father and mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones for enduring the trial. He said they are "still devastated because they're missing Ahmaud."

"You can't experience the pain of a mother and a father who witnessed what they witnessed not being there to protect their child," Crump said.

"Every parent in America can take solace in knowing that we have an example of how to deal with tragedy and grief when they look at the example of Marcus Arbery and Wanda Cooper. And we should applaud them."

2:35 p.m. ET, November 24, 2021

The jury weighed both charges of malice murder and felony murder. Here is how they are different.

From CNN's Elise Hammond

(CNN)
(CNN)

When deciding their verdict, the jurors in the trial in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery had to weigh two different types of murder charges – malice murder and felony murder.

Travis McMichael was found guilty of malice murder while the other defendants, Gregory McMichael and William "Roddie" Bryan Jr., were convicted on four and three of the counts of felony murder, respectively.

The difference between the charges has to do with intent, Elie Honig, CNN senior legal analyst, said.

Malice murder means that the jury determined that Travis McMichael intended to kill Ahmaud Arbery, and he did, Honig said. Travis McMichael was the person who shot Arbery. Gregory McMichael and William "Roddie" Bryan Jr.'s felony murder convictions means that they intentionally committed the felony.

"The chasing him with the truck, false imprisonment – and as a result of that, whether they intended it or not, Ahmaud Arbery was killed and that makes the father and Roddie Bryan guilty of murder as well," Hoing explained.

For context: Despite the different murder convictions, all three of the men could face possible life sentences.