The trial of three men charged in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery began today in Glynn County, Georgia.
Gregory McMichael, his son Travis McMichael and William "Roddie" Bryan Jr. are charged with murder and aggravated assault.
Here's what happened today in court:
- Revisiting the shooting: On Feb. 23, 2020, Arbery was shot dead in a confrontation with the McMichaels in the neighborhood of Satilla Shores, outside the city of Brunswick in Georgia's lowcountry. Arbery was on a jog — something he was known to do, according to those who knew him — when the McMichaels grabbed their guns and pursued Arbery. The men claimed to be conducting a citizen's arrest of Arbery. Bryan had also joined the pursuit and recorded the shooting on his cellphone.
- The jury: After a long and contentious jury selection process in a coastal Georgia county, a panel of 12 people — consisting of one Black member and 11 White members — was chosen Wednesday. The jury was selected after a two-and-a-half-week selection process that ended with prosecutors for the state accusing defense attorneys of disproportionately striking qualified Black jurors and basing some of their strikes on race.
- Video footage: Lead prosecutor Linda Dunikoski presented the state's opening arguments in the trial and played video from the day Arbery was shot and killed. Video of his death sparked national outrage last year when it was released in the months after the shooting. In May 2020, a 36-second video was released showing Arbery jogging down the middle of a street toward a pickup truck stopped in the road. Gregory McMichael was seen in the bed of the truck while his son is standing near the driver's side door with a shotgun.
- Arbery's mother: Wanda Cooper-Jones, Arbery's mother, said she decided to stay inside the courtroom while prosecutors played video of the shooting that killed her son because she wanted to "get familiar with what happened." "I decided to remain in so I could get familiar with what happened to Ahmaud — the last minutes of his life," she said.
- Defense makes its case: The defense attorney for one of the men accused of killing Arbery said his client acted in self-defense. He called Arbery’s death “a tragedy” during his opening statements Friday afternoon. Bob Rubin, one of the attorneys representing defendant Travis McMichael, painted a picture of a neighborhood that was fearful of break-ins and thefts in his opening statements. He attempted to frame McMichael as someone who had a responsibility to protect the Satilla Shore neighborhood where he lived, saying, "This case is about duty and responsibility” in the first lines of his address to the jury.
- Vigil: People outside the Georgia courthouse where the Arbery murder trial unfolded held a prayer vigil Friday morning.