Just a day shy of the two year anniversary of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, the 25-year-old Black jogger who was chased and killed by three white men, Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael, and William “Roddie” Bryan have been found guilty of federal hate crimes.
After more than three hours of deliberations on Monday, a jury—made up of eight white people, three Black people and one Hispanic person—reached a guilty verdict in federal court in Brunswick, Georgia on Tuesday morning.
Back in November 2021, all three men were convicted of murder and other charges, in a state court and were sentenced to life in prison on January 7.
In the federal trial, prosecutors sought to prove Arberys murder was racially motivated. The defendants were charged with violating Arbery’s civil rights, kidnapping, and for the McMichaels, an additional charge of use of a firearm to commit a crime. The McMichaels were found guilty of three counts each; Bryan was found guilty of two counts.
The federal hate crime trial centered on the history of the three men and their racial bias. An FBI analyst, who had combed through the three men’s social media and messaging history, found messages, videos, and memes that appeared to show that the three men held strong prejudices against Black people.
The defense argued that the messages and social media posts added to evidence were taken out of context.
During the press conference following the verdict, Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones called the verdict a “small victory” as the family would never see real justice because Arbery was no longer living. She said, “I as a mom will never heal.”
Cooper-Jones also seized the opportunity to call out the U.S. Department of Justice, for originally agreeing to accept a plea deal from her son’s killers in federal court on Jan. 31.
She said, “They ignored my cry. I begged them. Even after the family stood before the judge and asked them, asked the judge, to not take this plea deal, the lead prosecutor, Tara Lyons, stood up and asked the judge to ignore the family’s cry. That’s not justice for Ahmaud.”
She explained that the victory wouldn’t have happened “if it wasn’t for the fight that the family put up.” She continued, “What the DOJ did today, they were made to do today. It wasn’t because of what they wanted to do. They were made to do their job today.”
Three men have 14 days to file any appeals in the case.