Ahmaud Arbery: Defense concludes closing arguments, court adjourned until Tuesday

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — Defense attorneys concluded their closing arguments late Monday in the trial of three men accused in the February 2020 shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery.

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Here are the latest updates:

Update 5:09 p.m. EST Nov. 22: Defense teams concluded their closing arguments late Monday, and lead prosecutor Linda Dunikoski told the Judge Timothy Walmsley that she anticipates her rebuttal will require two hours.

Walmsley asked the jury if they wanted to continue or resume proceedings Tuesday morning. The jury opted to reconvene Tuesday.

“Based on that, I’m going to go ahead and break for the day,” Walmsley said.

Court will reconvene at 8:30 a.m.

Update 3:55 p.m. EST Nov. 22: Defense attorney Kevin Gough told jurors in his closing arguments that his client, William “Roddie” Bryan, had no idea that the McMichaels were armed “moments before Mr. Arbery’s tragic death.”

“By that time, sadly, there was nothing that Roddie Bryan could do to prevent this tragedy. He didn’t shoot anyone. At the time of the shooting he was some distance back. He was armed only with his cellphone.”

Gough also noted that Bryan has cooperated fully with investigators and has never balked when asked by them to provide his cell phone.

“Isn’t it time, ladies gentlemen, that we send Roddie Bryan home?” Gough asked the jury, noting that his client provided the “now famous video that you’ve seen so many times” upon which the prosecution’s case was built.

The issue before the jury then boils down to deciding only what Travis McMichael, who is seen in the video firing upon Arbery, “did or did not do,” Gough said.

Gough later suggested “divine providence” guided Bryan to document what he witnessed.

Update 3:09 p.m. EST Nov. 22: Kevin Gough, defense attorney for William “Roddie” Bryan, is now giving his closing argument. Gough is the final of three defense attorneys to deliver closing remarks.

Update 1:06 p.m. EST Nov. 22: While addressing jurors Monday, defense attorney Jason Sheffield said Travis McMichael shot Arbery in self-defense.

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“If he had only stayed home that day, if he just sat on the couch and fallen asleep with his kid – Travis told us there isn’t a day that goes by he doesn’t think that exact same thing. But the law allows a person to make a citizen’s arrest,” Sheffield said, according to The Associated Press.

Travis McMichael’s suspicion of Arbery was reasonable because Arbery frequently visited the unfinished home and had “absolutely no lawful reason to be there,” Sheffield argued, the AP reported.

Sheffield also pointed to Travis McMichael’s experience “when he encountered Arbery in the yard at night 12 days before the shooting. He breathlessly told a 911 dispatcher that Arbery had reached for his pocket as if he had a gun when confronted.”

Closing arguments will resume after a lunch break.

Update 10:52 a.m. EST Nov. 22: The prosecution has presented its closing arguments in the trial of three men accused in Ahmaud Arbery’s death.

While addressing jurors Monday, prosecutor Linda Dunikoski argued that Travis McMichael; his father, Greg McMichael; and his neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, “made assumptions about what was going on that day.”

“They made the decision to attack Ahmaud Arbery in their driveways because he was a Black man running down their street,” Dunikoski told jurors, according to The Associated Press. “They shot and killed him. Not because he was a threat to them, but because he wouldn’t stop and talk to them.”

After a recess, the defense will present its closing arguments. Previously, defense attorneys said the McMichaels and Bryan believed Arbery was a burglar and were trying to hold him for arrest, WSB reported. They argued that Travis McMichael fired his gun in self-defense after Arbery tried to take it from him, according to the AP.

Original report: Arbery, 25, died on Feb. 23, 2020, after Travis McMichael shot him as Arbery was jogging through the Satilla Shores neighborhood near Brunswick, authorities said. Travis McMichael; his father, Greg McMichael; and his neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, all face murder charges in the deadly shooting.

According to WSB-TV and ActionNewsJax, the defense for all three defendants rested Thursday afternoon after presenting their case for two days and calling seven witnesses. Travis McMichael testified during the trial; the other two defendants did not.

Defense attorneys said the McMichaels and Bryan believed Arbery was a burglar and were trying to hold him for arrest, WSB reported. They argued that Travis McMichael fired his gun in self-defense after Arbery tried to take it from him, according to The Associated Press.

>> PREVIOUS STORY: Ahmaud Arbery: Defense rests for 3 charged in death of jogger

After calling 21 witnesses over the course of eight days of testimony, the state rested its case Tuesday, WSB-TV reported.

Prosecutors said the McMichaels chased Arbery for five minutes based on assumptions about why the young Black man was running in the neighborhood, NPR reported. They argued that at no time did the McMichaels say they were conducting a citizen’s arrest and that the father and son were in fact unaware of any crime having occurred before the shooting.

Authorities brought charges against the McMichaels and Bryan months after the shooting amid public outcry after graphic footage of the deadly shooting appeared online. In September, a grand jury indicted former Glynn County District Attorney Jackie Johnson on charges related to the handling of the case.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.